Jul 05 AT 1:13 AM Clark Wimberly 69 Comments

Android and Me staff looks back at first few days with Google+

Over the past few days a good portion of our hours have been lost to the wiles of Google+. We’ve all been on Google+ since the end of June and we thought now would be a good time to take a quick look back at what we think of the service. Android and Me staffers sound off below:

[avatar id="44"] Anthony Domanico

What I really like about Google+ thus far is how fast everything is. Updates are in real-time, and scrolling through the various posts and photo streams is both fluid and speedy, unlike with Facebook. Things also seem to be much more polished than Facebook as well. The photo stream is gorgeous, for example.

The main thing I don’t like about Google+ is how fast everything is. It is way too easy to get caught up in Google+, and time just gets lost after a while. That would be really good if Google+ was all I needed to do all day every day, but alas I have a real job and need to, you know, generate some content on Android and Me. Also, huddles and hangouts could be implemented a bit better, perhaps cross-platform or support for devices with FFC?

Either way, Google+ is a very promising social network. I truly hope it remains intuitive over time, as that’s the only way they’re going to steal business from Facebook.

[avatar id="23434"] Russell Holly

The first hour with Google+ was a little jarring. Sure, I’d watched the videos and seen the hype across the social sphere, but when you get there, it’s still not extremely clear WHAT it is until you start using it. Once you’ve made that effort though, it’s an extremely cool service. Hangouts and Huddles are amazing, though I would like to see Hangouts in Mobile and Huddles on the browser. The Gchat implementation on Google+ is cool, but the +(name) feature doesn’t work there, which I hope they fix.

All in all this is an extremely cool first step, and I implore anyone who chooses to use Google+ right now to take a healthy interest in using the Submit Feedback button over and over and over again. By voicing your opinions at this stage Google+ is only going to get better.

[avatar id="25244"] Jess Blanchard

Ah, the early adopter’s thrill. For those less fortunate souls who have yet to gain access to Google+, here are my initial thoughts:

This service is one fully-integrated social media monster. And it’s intuitive, too. While hanging out in Google Hangouts, I was notified that a buddy of mine was watching YouTube. Did I want to join? Of course. With the click of a button, I was viewing content in real-time with someone halfway across the world. Sure, it was weird Danish music that I didn’t much care for or understand, but the experience was still awesome.

The notifications bar was a bit tricky at first. Google+ heard we like to click on stories in the notifications bar, so they designed this functionality to let us do it. Now that I’ve gotten the hang of it, it’s not so bad. And I like that I can view the latest comments and activity without navigating away from my Stream.

And one quick comment on Circles: They rock. So much better than Facebook Groups. Circles are an integral part of how Google+ operates, and it makes selective, controlled sharing painless and accessible. There’s no digging through privacy settings to make sure your grandmother didn’t see you drop the F-bomb on the internet.

The way things are going (and if I had my way), Facebook and Twitter will go the way of the dodo.

[avatar id="8803"] Nick Gray

Having only used Google+ for a few days, it’s hard to judge the service. There are a few issues that need to be sorted out (Hangouts/Huddles) and a few issues with the mobile app (failed posts and the inability to click on links) but Google+ appears to be destined for success. The reason Facebook killed off all the other social networks was because it encouraged interaction and communication between its members rather than focusing on mundane static content that you had to hunt around for. Google+ capitalizes on that notion and pushes it even further by allowing users to segregate the people they follow and choose who to share content with. Google+ still has a long journey ahead before it can even come close to competing with Facebook but it’s certainly one of the most innovative new web services of 2011.

[avatar id="23509"] Edgar Cervantes

While other social networks are good in their own ways, I have found no need for them since I’ve had the luck to join Google+. I have only used the other networks to share Android and Me content, since at the moment they have a larger user base. Aside from that though, I went into Facebook only once to say: “So, Google+ pretty much rocks! Just thought I would stop by and let you guys know. I am going back there! See ya!”

What makes Google+ better is that it is very easy to use and intuitive, and it seems like Google has taken into account the way we interact in “real life.” Circles play a big role in the Google+ environment, just like in our daily lives. We all (or most) have a real “circle of friends,” and we talk and act in different ways depending on the circle of people we are interacting with. Relatively, Google+ Circles allow you to limit what certain people can and can not have access to. There are also Hangouts, in which one can video chat, text chat, share YouTube videos, and just, well… hang out. It resembles the way we usually group around a computer to check out those amusing videos online. But if you want to take your chat everywhere you go, there is also “Huddle,” which comes with the Google+ Android app.

Of course, there are still some issues with Google+ (as it has just been born) like the fact that you can’t “Huddle” on a PC or “Hangout” from your Android app. Though, I definitely see Google’s new social network gaining momentum and reaching the top soon. Considering that such issues can be easily fixed, Google+ is very simple, fun, intuitive and even addictive (Have you guys noticed that our articles are not rolling out as often?). Can’t wait to see what else Google has for us!

[avatar id="6720"] Alberto Vildosola

Where do I start? Oh, I know. I absolutely love this thing! I love Circles, I love Hangout, I love Instant Upload on my phone, I love the way Google+ integrates with Picasa, I love that it is a Google service, I love the design and fun animations, and more importantly, I love that I can finally dump Facebook. Which is exactly what I did. I moved all my contacts using the Facebook Friend Exporter and exported all my Facebook photos using Facebook’s own export tool.

I know some of you might say: “But Alberto, how can you leave THE social network for a buggy, unreleased, service from Google?” And the answer is really simple: Google is betting the whole company on the success of Google+. They won’t let it fail like Wave and Buzz, because they simply can’t afford to. Wired’s Steven Levy wrote a great article recently on how Google+ came to be, which I recommend everyone to read. In it, Steven explains how Google+ (Emerald Sea) “was a bet-the-company project” and a “lengthy and urgent effort involving almost all of the company’s products.” And it shows. Just hours after people found the first privacy “loophole” on Google+, the company had a fix for it.

In addition to lightning-fast fixes based on users’ feedback, the amazing features in Google+ are only a fraction of what Google has planned for the social network. According to Wired, there are well over 100 more launches on Google’s calendar related to Google+. We already caught a glimpse of two of these “launches”: Google+ Games and Google+ Questions. Before you yell: “But I hate Farmville!” Let me tell you that I truly believe that Google has learned from Facebook’s mistakes of letting people inundate your news feed with Mafia Wars updates. Google might even one-up Facebook by making Google+ Games much more than just a bunch of Flash-based games. As some of you might know, Google wants to make web apps as powerful as native apps. Using things like WebGL and Native Client, we could start seeing web games that rival those on our PCs and consoles. If you just smiled at the thought of launching Modern Warfare 2 right from a Hangout, you’re not alone. So yeah, I love Google+ and what it could become.

[avatar id="4184"] Sean Riley

Google+ is a very interesting effort by Google in the social space as its design is flexible enough that it can just as easily be your Twitter, your Facebook, your Picplz, your Tinychat, and your messaging client all in one. To be clear that’s what I’ve discovered in the first 48 hours, I have no doubt it can be quite a bit more.

As you’ll see some of the other AAM crew note, that makes G+ an insane time suck, it’s as if someone rolled almost all of the most addictive features of the internet together into one giant time devouring monster. If Google adds some casual gaming into this, as rumors suggest they will, we may start seeing casualties.

People have expressed concerns that Facebook is trying to be the internet, a la AOL in the early 90s, but with Google+ added to its existing lineup of services I’d say that Google just leapfrogged Facebook in that quest. That is, of course, if they can get the users.

That’s the one big piece that I’m not sold on with Google+ yet and that’s whether the average user will take to it as easily or as willingly as the early adopters. Everyone cites how simple and intuitive the interface is and, while I agree, I’m too inside the bubble with all of the other tech fanatics that have clamored their way onto Google+ at this early stage. While we marvel at all of the different things that we are able to do with Google+ I think it’s possible that the average user may become bogged down in all of the options that are available right out of the gate.

Then again maybe they won’t and Google+ will take over the internet and I’m officially okay with that as damn it’s good.

And you, the reader?

What do you think of Google+? Is it living up to the hype? As a site, we’re seeing a ton of engagement over there, so it would seem that a lot of you are taking to it quite nicely. Now that you might have had a chance to take a few days with the service, what’s the verdict?

Clark is a developer living in Austin, Texas. He runs ClarkLab, a small web firm with his wife, Angie. He's a big fan of usability, standards, and clean design.

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