I was interested in seeing what Google + was all about just like the rest of the techno-social-media-geek world was. After receiving an invite and working on it a day or two, my initial impression was that it was just GoogleBook. Yet another stream of information, links, funny photos and videos, people talking about Google +, people talking about other people talking about Google +, yadda yadda yadda.
I wanted something that made me more productive, something that helped me get things done rather than being yet another stream of information that I passively watch roll down the screen. I saw some potential if there was integration with all their other Google products, but it just reproduced the same features more or less that I already have on “the book” and didn’t really live up to my expectations (it is still in beta by the way, and still invite only).
But, I found some things that was more in line with what I was looking for in the Chrome browser extensions. I am normally a Safari user but have since migrated over. Here are some of the extensions I have added:
- Voice search. With the built-in mic on my Macbook Air, I can now click the microphone icon and say what Im searching for instead of typing.
- Google Translate via GTools+ extension. This extension gives you several things, but the one thing I really like is it allows me to follow people who post in languages other than English, and with the click of button, automatically translates it to my language of preference based on my settings.
- Unlimited Picasa photos. This may cause me to move off of Flickr. Free is better than $25/yr for Flickr Pro.
- Extended Share extension. Gives me access to Facebook and Twitter so I can monitor and post to all three sites, all from one screen.
- Buttons. Nothing really new here, but have added buttons on the browser that links to several other sites now visible from the same screen (Safari extensions are very limited).
- Video Conference. With ‘Hangouts,’ you can have up to 10 people online in a video chat room.
The business version of Google sounded even more promising as there was mention of better integration with Google Apps, Docs, Analytics, etc.
The drawback right now is that I have to be on my laptop and have to be using Chrome in order to get these features and the iPhone app is extremely limited. It would be nice if these features were available from any browser and on your phone and/or tablet.
No way to know if G+ will continue to grow or just fade out like Google Wave and Google Buzz did, but I am intrigued enough to spend time on it and see how it evolves. Most of my friends/family are on Facebook and G+ doesn’t have the numbers yet, but a little competition for “the book” might help both up their game.