Google+ Just Surprised Me!

Of course people recognize that name today. It probably not as popular as its big blue brothers but it absolutely is on the game. I think Google+ was not that popular back in 2010 when it was firstly launched.

Back in 2011, I was excited to see Google+ emerged on the ranks of social media. At that time, me - and obviously Google itself - thought that G+ could be the next big thing like Facebook and Twitter (Instagram was not lauched yet). I made my account, played with it for a while and after two months, forgot about it. The reason simply because I found G+ rather boring compared to the other two social media. Despite of huge campaigns Google made to promote it, I found that people considered G+ was not worth their time and decided to switch back to Facebook, as I did.

I understood the reason. As the new kid on the block, Google Plus had this new, sophisticated interface. It took me quite a while to understand how G+ works. This factor was probably one of the reason people found considerably wearisome. Facebook and Twitter have this single column - progressive timeline while G+ has double columns with cluster style timeline. I enjoyed the single column timeline because it could effortlessly focused my attention, while in G+ I had to involuntary splitted my attention to its "clusters".

I also thought that G+ feature generally combined two main features of Facebook and Twitter: the "add as friend" and "follow". This was also baffling because at that time I was set: if I want to make friends I will go to Facebook, if I want to be updated with things I concern about I will go to Twitter. So where did Google Plus stand? I did not know.

Another reason was its small amount of users. In contrast to Facebook, G+ didn't have much users that time. Nonetheless it considered reasonable as Google Plus was novel. As I recall, in the beginning people need to be invited to have a G+ account. Google may had its own reason but I thought it was quite pompous. Some of my friends had invited, I had it too, but some hadn't. Imagine you saw the latest hip thing people talk about but you can't take part simply because you were not invited. So when finally Google dropped its invitation policy, my friends had already lost their interest to sign up.

Consequently I never interested to dig more into G+. I left my account for 4 years and never open it. Until recently.

The wake up call was the G+ integration feature on Blogger. I left blogging - and some other aspects in my life - in 2010 but decided to do it again just a while ago. I didn't realize this upgrade until I checked the status tab. Most of my blog visits came from Google Plus! As I investigated, I found that Blogger could now automatically post link and thumbnail about the new post to Google Plus.

I went into Google Plus and I WAS AMAZED!

The interface jolted me. There were two columns with an additional side tab and a pop-up chat tab. Well, this improvement was not so refreshing as Facebook already implemented it.

Google Plus New Interface
Google Plus New Interface

The main upgrade that awed me was its content. I find the present Google Plus has immensely opulent content. The follow action is now integrated  into two new features: Category and Community. As the self-explanatory names, I can engaged with various social groups in Community and keep myself up with cool news posted by the group members. You need to be approved first to fully enjoy the benefit of the community which I find excellent. This approach sends subtle caution of dedication and seriousness to the prospective user, unlike Facebook open groups which allow anyone to join and thus potentially twist the group into pandemonium of spams with majorly idle users.

Google Plus Community feature for various social groups
Google Plus Community: Join various social groups

In Community, there are plenty thematic groups established by users. In less than a minute, I found myself clicked nearly fifteen groups.  Category adopted news feed feature which enables user to follow various topics. The amazing thing about Category is its extensiveness. You could find any category here, from gardening to astronomy. As someone who subconciously interested in latest topics, I find it highly exceptional.

Google Plus Cateogry feature update users with cool topics
Google Plus Cateogry: Get updated with cool topics!

Another key worth highlighted here is the high flexibility of profile setting. Unlike Facebook which already put markings here and there for some information like years and sexes, Google Plus dismissed them and instead allows users to use more freedom. For example in the job section of About Me, I can freely type the year of my employment without the pop-up column.

Google Plus new feature set no limitation to edit profile setting
Google Plus new feature set no limitation to edit profile setting

As a former motion graphic artist and interaction design enthusiast, I also find the panel switching movements of the new Google Plus interface is thrilling. Remember the transformation between Windows 7 to Windows 8? Yes, I'm talking about that swish. I find these movements in other Google products too, but rather scarce in other social media. This gives the user the sensation of interactivity regardless of the media used to access it.

Eventually, I'm pretty satisfied with the G+'s upgrade. I'm not a tech expert, but I feel that they are modern and up to date. I'm thrilled to explore Google Plus later. Good job!

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