Google+ : My first impressions
After using Google+ for a day, here are my first impressions.
The good parts:
- Google+ connections are modeled on Twitter. A ‘handshake’ is not necessary for two people to connect. Just follow people on Google+ without having them to first approve the connection by accepting a ‘friend request’.
- Quick and easy way to define an audience for each post. If a post is marked as public, everybody can read that post — even those who do not have a Google+ account. Restrict the audience of a post by marking its visibility to a group of people. (Groups are called ‘circles’ in Google+ lingo and is a convenient way for grouping people into separate buckets like: family, work, etc. Adding a person to multiple circles is allowed.)
- Posts are not limited to Google+ users. A message is posted to circle(s) and a circle can contain email ids, and the message to those people is email’d to them. (Google+ users receive emails too, but there is an option to turn off the email notifications in the settings.)
- No restriction on the length of a post. A post does not have a fixed character limit. (This cannot be infinite, but is good enough for most purposes.)
- No advertisements [yet]. Even when they do add advertisements, Google will likely not make it too loud. They have set a good example in the way they place advertisements in Google search results and in Gmail.
- Many tech nerds and geeks who are internet celebrities, are embracing Google+. This is a big plus because I follow some of them. Somehow, they never quite took off on Facebook for things they wanted to say publicly. (Many do have Facebook accounts, but they use it mostly for personal communication.)
- Hangout allows group video chat. This will be useful when enough of my friends join Google+.
Google+ can improve:
- Poor support for formatting posts. I would like to see more formatting options for posts. Because the length of a post is not limited, people can write lengthy — blog style — posts which can benefit from having some formatting — like title of the post, headers of sections, bullet point lists, block quotes etc. Until then, Google+ is not a viable option for small time bloggers. But that is not the only reason to have good formatting capabilities. (Markdown support would be super.)
- Poor support for keyboard shortcuts. I would like to see improvements in keyboard shortcuts. Basic keyboard based navigation is available, but I could not find anything that enables quick posts.
- Suggested names can be more useful. I would like to see improvements in the suggested names drop down list. Starting a word with + or @ in a post prompts Google+ to help out with auto completing of names. This is done by showing matching names as I type characters following + or @. This is a good thing but the list of names that it brings up in a drop down list is from all over Google+, including names of people I follow. People I follow do not get a priority in their placement in this list. The drop down list will be more useful if it first listed matching names from people I follow, and only if there are not enough names from that group to fill the list, it then lists matching names of people who I do not follow.
- Poor lineup of native apps. Support for native apps on popular platforms is needed. Especially iOS, Mac OS X and Windows. (Android already seems to have an app.)