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Google+ is hot property right now. Technology bloggers the world over are writing thousands of words a day about it (myself included).
Sitting in a kind of partway space between the simplicity of Twitter and the do a bit of everything nature of Facebook, it is a technology that is still finding its true place in the social media world.
So far, it seems that where Facebook is for communicating with friends and family and Twitter is for engaging with new audiences and meeting new friends, Google+ is for talking at acquaintances!
However, for me it has been missing one big thing. A mobile app on iPhone. Apple seemed to really drag their heels in letting this one onto the market! Twitter got big because it became a platform which allowed you to do anything from chatting to celebs to chatting to your fridge. This was all due to how open the apis are. It has made Twitter a social media platform rather than just an application. More people use apps to connect to Twitter than they do the main website. People have choice!
Facebook is almost the exact opposite. It is an application pure and simple. These days it feels like the only platform it offers is for advertising, but it does have mobile apps.
Why is that important? Well for me it means I actually use it. I very rarely use Facebook or Twitter on anything but my smart phone.
That is why I am quite excited about the Google+ app. Unlike many, I find G+ to be a little sprawling and disconnected. It just feels like a group of separate apps pulled together. However, I do like the status streams. They are very much like Facebook in their freedom (media, no word limits etc), but you get some of the openness of Twitter and the ability to engage with people that are not necessarily in your “Circles”.
The app cuts out much of what I consider clutter. It offers you five options. Stream, Huddle, Circles, Profile and Photos.
These are all the same as the website, except Huddles. These are a sort of chat application that lets you directly connect to individuals or custom groups. It is actually well done and nice to use, allowing you to easily select who to include and also giving you push notifications. Sadly, there are no Hangouts, the “killer app” for most people. I am sure it will come though! One stand out feature is the way it displays your Picassa albums. I spent ages last night looking at old photos of my daughter, that I had not looked at in ages – because suddenly they were available on my phone in an easy to use manner!
I have to say, I really like the mobile app. It is well presented, ways to use and makes Google+ much more accessible. It means that I can now use Google+ regularly and start to find out what it might be able to do for me.
Lets hope that Google open up their system soon so that developers can start making proper use of the platform that is there and we can start seeing some really innovative uses, although I am not sure I need my fridge to be in one of my Circles!