The first formal reviews of Google+, the social-network-news-feed-video-chat hybrid, are in. And they are vague. Wired's short piece, for instance, concludes: "So far, I'm quite impressed." Others responsible for reviews dwelled on, well, not being admitted to the party. (Time: Point taken: I was not yet part of the Google+ Circle." ZDNet: "Where the hell is my Google+ invitation?")
As mainstream media struggles to grasp the phenomena that is Google+, the online hype machine has been furiously churning for days. And it's not just churning out rants. There are smart, informed, and self-consciously amusing comments about Google's latest debut. So, we compiled some of the most fascinating and funniest Tweets and other online comments in hopes that the wisdom of the crowd here can illuminate some of what you'll need to know about Google+. Well, as soon as you get that coveted invite.
What's with the slow approach?
After a couple of lackluster debuts (known as Google Wave and Google Buzz), Google seems to be back at the helm of the hype machine. By opening up the invites for Google+, it brought online hype to a fever pitch. When Google shut down inviting a few hours later (Vic Gundotra, the head of Google's social-networking efforts, wrote in a Google post: "We've shut down invite mechanism for the night. Insane demand. We need to do this carefully..."), hype only intensified. Lesson: going slow with a launch is not only good for your servers and your sanity, but can extend a feeling of exclusivity to users. Some reacitons:
"It's good that Google is taking a slower approach," Mike Hickey, an analyst with Janco Partners Inc. in Greenwood Village, Colorado, said in an interview quoted in Bloomberg today.
@tweetsfromben: RT @nick4glengate: Twitterfeed filling up with peeps gloating over their Google+ accounts - has Google created the first anti-social network?
...and despite hundreds of tweets begging friends for Google+ invites (@jon_brockman? Ok ok sigh. Anyone have a google+ invite for me? Pleeeeease?), and bragging about recieving them, some are more cynical:: Google+ is not that great when you're only connected to two people.
Google+ vs. Twitter, Facebook, et al.
It's still too early to tell where Google+ will fall primarily in the social networking realm. Is it the new Facebook? A substitute for Twitter? Mashable even compared it to social Q&A website Quora. But the reaction from users seems to mostly be aimed at Facebook, as Twitter plays host to the ongoing "is this better than Facebook" discussion. Best reactions:
@guy: Ok, moved all my stuff over to Google+. Now, how do I close my Facebook account?
@dylanjfield: Literally every post on my Facebook Top News is about getting an invite to Google+.
@michellejlee: If #Google+ catches on, Twitter & Facebook are in BIG TROUBLE. I'm having way too much fun circle sorting.
...or, according to the @FakeSarahPalin, it's just the new Google Wave ("I HAVE GOOGLE WAVE INVITES IF ANY1 WANTS ONE.")
Exploring the potential privacy issues.
For many, the idea of having their G-life unprotected is way more than a little unnerving. Just a day after launch, The Financial Times pointed out there may be a minor privacy flaw with the "resharing" feature, which could push content on users that aren't actually in your network of friends. But luckily, the Twittersphere is abuzz with tips and tricks to navigating this new platform. Here are some more from the early Google+ pioneers:
@dangrabham: The main problem I have with Google+ is that it uses my Google Contacts. Which are, quite frankly, a real mess
@msuiche: I forecast a lot of fake Facebook applications to "Import Facebook friends to Google+"
@lisah: Spent the morning with Google+. It's intrusiveness and lack of privacy is reprehensible and I'm done with it.
@lorvax: OK, now is #google+ supposed to be like #Twitter? Because I just got added by 3 people I never heard of.
@modern_night: First act of business on google+ was turning off auto-uploading of images from my phone's camera. Hrmph.
What works for work?
Google experienced a backlash of hate with its last social-networking attempt, Buzz, and there seems to be a fair amount of frustration out there already about Google+. But plenty are praising the structure of the new venture—especially for its ability to segment out groups of friends, branches of family, or departments of colleagues into Circles. Co-workers in a circle can meet up on any device to work on a project, whether at home or in the office. Meetings can take advantage of this feature as well, effectively bypassing the options that offer a fee for group chatting (like Skype or Go2Meeting).
The guys at BoingBoing tested the group video chat feature last night (called "Hangout") and wrote a post about the silly dance party that occured. There's also an innovative mobile solution built into Google+: Huddle, a group-texting service. A smartphone with the Google+ app simply needs to tap on the circle they are trying to reach, and a group chat automatically comes up. An ideal go-to platform for business trips, this application isn’t tied to a specific phone like BBM for Blackberry. Users across nearly any cell phone can interact with each other and utilize Huddle as a landing space for business interactions on-the-go. Here's how the Twitteratti responded:
@DeMarko: Google+'s killer feature is Hangouts. I didn't bother with Sparks for a single moment and the Stream is a horrible Facebook/Buzz mashup
@loveofbrooklyn: Playing around with Google+. Adding friends is kind of confusing, to be honest. Circles are easier.
@icemarkom: Google+ Day 1: The biggest obstacle I see is building up the network. I used Facebook for years. Just switching over will a) never happen...
@jchutchins: You likely see Google+ as a cool new frontier to explore the social web. I just see another storefront to maintain.
@joshsternberg: Kinda dig how Google+ is always open when you have your Gmail open.
Haven't gotten an invite yet? Here's a preview:
@deanhunt: Here is a sneak peak of my Google+ account, for those of you who are curious about this new service.
—by Nicole Carter, Lauren Hockenson, Christine Lagorio, and Dave Smith