So I received an invite from a friend to join Google+ this week and I spared no time getting logged in and setup.
The first thing we tried as a hangout, basically a netmeeting, only with the ugly MS requirement. After installing the plugin (they actually have a Linux plugin!!) and a little snafu with my mic (which was totally my own fault) we were video chatting with each other and sharing YouTube videos. You can chat with a bunch of people all at once so I see this being a contender to all the WebEx and DimDim clones out there. [ BTW, if you miss DimDim, try BuddyMeeting, it is a fork of the open source DimDim code ] Actually on second thought, I am not sure if it will compete with those sort of products, its contingent on everyone having a Google+ account, so that right there is a big strike against its viability as a WebEx contender. But still, all in all, very cool.
Next are circles, or groups, for friends. A novel idea on groups, but nothing terrible new here. The act of adding friends to circles is sort of fun with the animation, but other than that I haven’t seen a lot of difference there. There is one thing worth pointing out about about how Google+ uses these circles however. When you post to your stream, or your microblog of sorts, you can choose which circles get to see the post. This is huge for me. One of the things that really turned me off to Facebook was the fact that when ever I posted anything, ALL my friends would see it. So all those stupid YouTube videos or slight NSFW links that I wanted to share with my friends, yeah, my parents could see them too. The only alternative would be to unfriend my parents, not really an options when I want to share pics and videos of the kids with the extended family.
Other than that there aren’t a ton of differences from Facebook. You can share your videos and photos, nothing new there, and having an android phone makes it even easier. Its intriguing enough to bring be back from a self-imposed exile on social media, but if it will keep me remains to be seen.