By Kary Feick

kfeick@my.madonna.edu

Should you switch to Google+? The popular question is popping up everywhere among social networking users. Whether Google+ will measure up to Facebook is still to be determined.

Once Google+ launches, I may personally stop using Facebook and give Google a try. After releasing several unsuccessful Google add-ons such as Buzz and Wave, Google’s reputation spiraled downward. In an effort to beat Facebook and gain more attention through it’s many search engine and e-mail users, Google wants to launch the best, most attractive social media site in history.

Will it work? I think the site has the potential to be extremely successful, but it depends on how glued to Facebook the online social crowd is. One disadvantage for Google is launching a site where you must create an account and invite your friends. More people are likely to stick to Facebook due to the relationships and friendships they have gained throughout the years. Why switch to a different site and have to search for all of your friends again when you can connect with everyone on Facebook?

My reason is Facebook changes; it’s something we all hear about a lot. The Facebook team finds it necessary to keep making changes to the popular social networking site. I can’t believe Facebook hasn’t caught on by now. If a site keeps making changes, users do not keep pouring in. Instead, frustrated members leave the site, looking for other sites. It seems like Facebook has gone from making changes every six months to making changes almost biweekly. While Facebook is the most popular social media website, Google+ may soon take over after it goes public.

Right now Google+ is only a project in a limited field trial. Users invited to the trial had the opportunity to invite up to 10 friends. However, the site quickly exceeded its capacity, leaving many invited people in the dark about the new social site.

Google certainly has a few intriguing tools that Facebook does not. If you visit the Google+ project website, (https://plus.google.com/) and take the tour, you can see exactly what I am about to discuss.

First, there are “Circles.” Similar to Facebook groups, a circle is just like your circle of friends in real life. Google believes a person has many circles of friends, maybe some you go out with on Friday nights, co-workers, or peers from your high school or college. Circles offer the opportunity to share what you would in real life, but in a faster way online. Unlike Facebook groups, which require a user to make a group page, Google+ makes Circles seem easy to use.

Google+ also offers “Hangouts.” Much like everyday life where friends meet up to have a conversation, Hangouts are the online version of this. I think Google+ Hangouts may pull users away from Skype. Free to use, Hangouts offer video chat with a handful of friends. Users can chat with entire Circles or just one friend. Google even added a feature for speaking recognition. Whoever is speaking, or speaking the loudest moves to the center of the screen. According to Google+, Hangouts are the next best thing until teleportation is invented.

Much like Facebook, Google offers a cell phone to website photo upload. Unlike Facebook, photos are uploaded to Google automatically. After upload, photos are placed in a private album where users can pick who to share with right from their cell phone.

Next, Google+ combines interests and Internet search into one tool. “Similar to the Genius application in iTunes, “Sparks” is all about “smart” suggestions based on what you like. Google+ defines Sparks as always having something cool to watch, read, or share when you’re free.

Last, but certainly not least, Google+ is equipped with the “Huddle” tool. A Huddle is a very simple way to talk to several friends, or even one of your Circles. Huddles work with cell phones, incorporating group texting. Once each person has been texted, Google+ turns the conversation into one easy-to-use chat. Huddles make it simple to decide on a movie or a restaurant because each person sees the chat and does not have to keep flipping between texts with several different people. It combines calling everyone you want to invite out or texting them into one simple chat.

At the end of the tour, Google claims more tools may be developed after they receive feedback about the current one’s. 

Wrapping up the difference between Facebook and Google+, Facebook does not offer many of the intriguing tools that Google+ does. I think Google+ Hangouts and Huddles will be the most successful for the Google add-on. Combining Skype, texting, and group chat is a smart move for Google.

The world’s most popular social networking site may sink down into the ground in the next few years. While I don’t expect users to leave Facebook right away, I think many will eventually turn to Google+ and use Facebook as a secondary social site. Personally, I plan to join Google+ and give it a try. I may abandon Facebook just like I did to MySpace about four years ago.




 



Opinion

Google+ offers some intriguing tools to entice users