Google has tried social networking sites before, but they didn’t catch on; does anyone remember Orkut? I’d guess there are not many people who would. However this new social-networking site from Google, Google + has a lot going for it. To begin with it does not have negative connotations among Muslims as Facebook does after its Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) fiasco which led to it being blocked in several Muslim countries. Those people that closed their accounts at that time will no doubt welcome Google+ as a new vehicle for social-networking, which they enjoyed, but would not be associated with Facebook again.
Certainly Google + has some features which are not found on Facebook yet, although it will hasten to catch up if Google+ proves popular beyond their expectations. For example, Google + allows users to automatically upload photos and videos to a private album and then the only hassle is to decide who you want to share them with. With Facebook uploading is not automatic and more of a chore.
Perhaps the best feature that Google + has is “Hangouts”; you can have unplanned meetings with your contacts, by letting them know that you are online and then you wait to see who drops by for a chat, which is a face-to-face one. With Facebook you have to text. This might change though as Microsoft, an investor in Facebook has just bought Skype. Google claims that its Circles feature is better and easier to use than Facebook’s lists, where you can categorize your contacts so that you don’t share inappropriate information with people. For example, you may not want to tell your parents about your Saturday night exploits, but want to share them with friends.
Google+ aims to be a one-stop-shop and with “Sparks” you can find all possible information on a topic you wish to find out more about. All you do is set up a Spark for your chosen topic and get the latest from blogs and what your friends are saying about that topic. Sparks also sends you stuff that may be of interest to you, so if you are at a loose end there is something to read, watch or share. This is rather like the StumbleUpon service, but more advanced in its concept.
Finally there is the “Huddle” feature which enables you to have the people you have been trying to text to organize a night out all in one group to discuss plans on your page. This will save your texting thumbs and make arrangements much easier to make. These features make Google+ different from Facebook, but why not give yourself the Google + experience and try out these features?