Almost 2 weeks I’ve been using Google Plus (G+) and already I wish I could use it to replace both Twitter and Facebook. And one of the questions that I keep getting is, as you could expect, why? To answer those questions, give you a better idea of what G+ is and to force me to dig further into the settings and features, I’m going to write up a multiple part series on the key features of G+.
Where Facebook makes you dig down to multiple pages in different sections to find your privacy settings that **still** don’t make sense, with G+ they are very easy to find, very easy to modify and very easy to control who sees what.
Above is a screen shot of my profile page in edit mode. The arrows show what parts can be controlled through the settings, giving you complete control over who can view what in your profile, like this.
- Anyone on the Web – This is 100% public. Anyone that finds your profile can see this
- Extended circles – This is friends of your friends
- Your circles – only your friends
- Only you – nobody can see it except you
- Custom – This allows you to specify what circles can actually see this.
Easy. In 5 minutes or less you can go through your G+ profile and control what bits you want to share and who you want to share it with. Not hidden. Not buried in 5 different menus on 3 different pages. Right there, front and center.
Circles are just like lists on Facebook, but make way more sense. If you are a Gmail user, think of Circles like Gmail labels. If you aren’t a Gmail user, think of Circles like buckets.
You add friends, family, the kid that mows your lawn or whoever to any Circle you like. And not just 1 circle, but as many as you like. For example, I have a circle called Friends and a circle called MINI. Within those circles there is some overlap because I have friends that are also fans of the MINI Cooper.
Now, here is the cool part about circles. When you share something on G+, you can either make it public (meaning everyone can see it and share it) or select from certain circles. Photos from the family gathering that you **only** want to share with family? Done. News of some hot new Apple gizmo that you only want to share with your nerd friends? That too. Want to do a hangout, but only with a specific group of people? Done and done.
I’ve heard you can do something like this with Facebook, but I’ve never had any luck doing it. Besides, this is a very elegant solution. Adding people to circles is a simple drag and drop operation. Setting post permissions to certain circles is just a click or two away. It’s quite brilliant.
G+ is still in ‘field test’ mode, which is just a fancy way of saying beta. There are still some rough edges and I would bet a few features still yet to make themselves known. I’m hoping they add the ability to specify a default circle for both posting and reading, that would make this feature completely over-the-top.
Google has turned invites off for the time being. Next time they open up, find someone that has access that can invite you. You should, at the very least, check it out. I think you’ll enjoy it quite a lot!