Google Plus – A quick look at its functionality

Posted on February 17, 2012

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A friend of mine about half the country away messaged me the question, “Why aren’t you on Google Plus more often?” I responded that I checked it once a week, but didn’t think it was quite to that point where it is usable – I really hadn’t tried or noticed anything new for a while. A model I work with started a chat session about a week ago, but beyond this, I really haven’t done much of anything. His response, “DUUUUUUUDDDDDDDEEEEE! You are missing out. Get over to it right now and let me show you some things.” So I did. This is a little of what was shown and what I have experienced over the past few months.  If you are a model, with the number of photographers who are on Google Plus, you should seriously consider being on it if you aren’t.

One of the neatest features to be added is that of Google hangouts. You can think of them as instant video chat rooms created by members on the fly. If you have every Skyped, you can think of this as a Skype session with more than one person. Amazingly, the quality is a lot better than Skype at my house. I am curious to see if this is true somewhere where they have a huge Internet connection. Now that I have participated in one, I know that some of the You-tube ’round table’ discussions that have been recorded and shared are exactly what these are.  Something else that is really neat about this type of meeting is that you can share your desktop – so if you want to show someone something with say, Photoshop or the OS, just share your desktop and let them see exactly what you are doing.  In some of the captured round tables, everyone mutes their mikes and then the person teaching shows exactly how to do things like lighting for a special type of image, and they usually have someone else using chat to relay questions. It is something I expect to see more development and use in the future.

Another feature is the chat. If you have used more than one chat program, they all start looking alike.

Google introduced company pages a while back on Google Plus, but working with them, there appears to be some issues using them like you use a marketing page on other social networks. At this point, everyone has to come to you and you can’t necessarily go to them. Once they come to you, you can use them like other social networks.

When I was looking around this morning, I noticed they had also added some games that you can play. With this addition, Google Plus is getting more like other social networks and becoming a viable social networking site. There are only about 15 games, but expect that number to grow.

One thing that needs to be said is that Google leverages it’s Internet properties. The photographs you add get posted in Picassa. I expect that you will see a blogging component added with Blogger. Desktop work space functions by Google apps. You get the idea.

From a security standpoint, Google Plus works to be more secure than you get on other networks. Everything is based around circles.  For instance, they start out with a few for you, and you can add people into them. This way, it allows you to arrange and release content to only those that need to see it. I know when Google plus came out for review, one of the other major social networks started to revamp their security to reflect Google Plus’ changes. Circles, by the way, reflect the different groups you associate. For instance, you may have one that says “work buddies”, another that says “high school friends”, and yet another that is for “family”.  You can see how this makes the information revealed to others more limited and directed at whomever — you don’t have to have everyone getting everything you do online.

Hopefully this has given you a good idea about Google plus functionality.  Since it is new, it may take a little bit to get used to the way Google Plus works. Try to stick with it. Over time, it becomes easier and more friendly.

I have been talking with a model while I have been writing this, and she asked if you need a Gmail account. The answer is yes, you do. Google uses their accounts as a single sign-in for most of their services. This is the same thing that Microsoft and Yahoo do, too, with their accounts.

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Posted in: Misc