Did Google finally get it right with Google+? Will this new platform be the piece that ties together Google Apps for Ed with a strong social media platform? Will people accept and adopt another social network?

I’ve spent the past week testing out and exploring Google+. Let me start with my list of the positives:

 

1. Integration with Gmail
Now when you log into your Gmail, the task bar at the top has changed and Google+ notifications are built into the Google toolbar. The convenience of this is a huge factor in keeping you coming back to the social network. With so many people using Gmail as their email service, this integration will help bring more people to accept the network.

 

2. “Circles”
I love the idea of circles. One issue of Facebook and Twitter is that there is very little room for separation between family, friends and colleagues when interacting with these social networks. With circles, you have the ability to post the right content to the right audience, allowing you to combine professional and personal networks into one. Another great benefit is the ability to filter the stream using circles. This will become especially important once I start following a larger number of people in education or technology.

 

3. The ability to follow anyone
This is where Google+ took a page out of Twitter’s book. I find it fascinating to be able to follow virtually anyone on Google+. Most Facebook users will immediately think, “but what if I don’t want someone to follow me?” This is where the circles come in. You have the ability to set each post to public, extended circles, circles, any particular circle(s), or even by person. This allows you to have a public feed as well as private ones.

 

4. Hangouts
Although this can be done through other web services, the convenience and easy user interface of Hangouts on Google+ brings about some huge possibilities for education in particular. As I take my last graduate level course online, I have used many different collaboration tools from Blackboard to Adobe Connect and Schoology. Hangouts proves to be a contender to these tools, especially with the potential audience of users it can draw.

 

5. Google Chat
To be honest, I rarely use Facebook chat when communicating with others. Usually, the instant messaging I do is through iChat (Google Chat) because the people I talk to most often all use Google Chat. Having this integrated right into Google+ means I will probably use it even mor, since it’s right there and very convenient.

 

6. Automatic Mobile Photo Uploader
I wasn’t so sure about this feature when signing up for Google+ but I have found it incredibly convenient. This feature automatically uploads any photo taken from my Android phone directly to Google+. Immediately most people think of privacy concerns tied in with this, but I have found it very nice to not have to manually upload my photos. First, the photos are all uploaded and locked so that only I can see them unless I decide to share them. The reality is that the photos that I take on my phone are usually taken to be shared with someone via email or a social network, and this automatic feature just takes away one step in the process.

 

7. Potential for integration with Google Apps for Ed

This is going to be huge and I can’t wait to see how they plan to integrate the two web services.

Dave Girouard's profile photoDave Girouard originally shared this post: Can’t wait to get Google+ out to some of our Apps for EDU schools!

8. Feedback encouraged

The accessibility and collective knowledge approach of Google during the testing phase and development of this network will be revolutionary in developing Google+ because it allows this diverse and talented field of testers to all have input.

Dave Girouard's profile photoDave Girouard originally shared this post: How would you like to see Google Docs play with G+? Let +Jonathan Rochelle and +Jeff Harris know!

Now for where I would improve Google+:

 

1. Integration with Twitter
If Google is smart, they will integrate a way to cross post or integrate Twitter into Google+. I know this could be a hard thing to do, but if users are given the option to combine two networks together, I think they will take it.

 

2. Adding friends
Google+ has a easy way to add users from your Gmail address book to the network and your circles, but it can be difficult to filter through old email addresses. My suggestion would be to have an easy way to hide unused email addresses or combine multiple addresses into one contact and choose a primary.

 

3. Google+ for the iPad
Although the iOS app is not out yet, I believe this will be a big factor for the brand new social network. The Android app is great and the iOS needs to be just as good, given that iOS is such a large market.

 

Peter Smith

Peter Smith

Mathematics Teacher at Worcester Academy

Peter Smith is currently a mathematics teacher at Worcester Academy in Worcester, MA. Prior to teaching mathematics at Worcester Academy, he was first a technology integration specialist and then the director of academic technology while the school developed and launched their one-to-one laptop program. Peter Smith holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Allegheny College and a M.A. in Computing in Education from The Teachers College - Columbia University. He also holds a STEM Leadership Certificate from NASA's Endeavor Program.