By now, there are many articles on how Google+ looks and what it features, but still, I thought of collecting my impressions after taking it for a spin.
- The UI feels more roomy. Lots of padding everywhere compared to a more dense layout in Facebook. However, once you have a lot of posts, you have to keep scrolling a LOT !
- Keyboard navigation is really nice, with smooth transitions as you press
kfor next/previous. Makes up for the scrolling you have to do !
- The act of getting people into the right Circles is everywhere in the UI. Anywhere you see a profile picture, you can just hover over the "Add to circles" button and place the person in the appropriate group.
- Though the Circles UI is widely acclaimed for its slick operation with fancy animations, it soon felt really clunky as my lists and circles grew.
- Circles are currently one-way. So if you have a group of close friends, every one of you will have to replicate the same Circle configuration so that your shares are not missed. Maybe some form of public Circles might be useful.
- Sharing to people outside of Google+ is also seamless as it let you choose to reach them via e-mail. However they can't reply back via e-mail, and this would be a great way to still allow outside participation during the field test period.
- The notification bar is the most addictive part because you can't escape it ! And the fact that you can respond to the notification right there also is a huge win because you don't have necessarily have to visit the Google+ site.
- I think that Hangouts, the multi-user video chat is THE killer feature of Google+. Apple would have held a whole keynote for just this thing ;) !
- The "Send Feedback" feature is the most sophisticated I've seen in any application, with the ability to take screenshots, highlight a particular area of the screen, and obscure private information.
- I didn't realize that in addition to taking on Facebook, Google+ is gunning for Twitter as well. My feed was initially a Facebook-like friends and family feed, but now it has turned into a power Twitter feed once I've started following some Internet celebrities (.. cough .. Scoble .. cough ..).
- Google+ really lets Picasa shine as it automatically bubbles up already created albums from your contacts, applying any previously set privacy settings. Getting a credible social component to Picasa is a huge hole that Google has filled.
- Sparks is my least used feature as my trusty RSS subscriptions in Google Reader gets me much better quality stories. It would be great if Sparks could automatically recommend content based on my RSS subscriptions. And in addition to content, Sparks should also recommend people to follow, based on my Following circle.
The Google+ developers are working fast and furious to get the most obvious bugs fixed, and there's a lot of enthusiasm among the people currently in the field trial. Kudos to the Google team on what has been undoubtedly a huge labour of love.