Some good things in Google+

So, Google Plus launched, the first truly viable Facebook competitor. The timing is quite interesting, given Google's recent failures with the Buzz microblogging platform, and the impending Facebook IPO. After a bit of time with Plus, here are some thoughts:

  • Google already knows everything I do, so sharing stuff there feels less risky
  • The UI is pretty and a lot less bloated than Facebook's
  • Messages and comments can be edited, saving from unnecessary typos and having to post quick clarifications separately
  • Circles are a great way to organize your contacts, and I like the fact that they avoid the loaded friend term
  • You can export all your data, so you have a way out if you need one
  • Group videochats are also a promising concept
But of course there are some downsides:

  • Facebook already has a crazy critical mass. We'll see whether the non-geeks convert to Plus or not
  • There is no integration to third-party services like Flickr, and there is no API
  • Content is not language tagged and filtered, like on Qaiku. Google could probably do even better here, doing automatic language recognition and translation
We'll see how this plays out. In general, Google is a more friendly player than Facebook, but if they have both search and social, they'll basically own the web.

Righ now Facebook is the social service with the users, alongside the more news-oriented Twitter. But Google's advantage may be how this now integrates with all their other services. If you register to Plus, the black "sandbar" that appears everywhere including search results will do its best to pull you back.

And they may do something interesting with the masses of Android devices out there, most with Google accounts already enabled.