Thursday, July 7, 2011

First Night Impressions of Google+

Even though I was invited to Google+ a week ago (thanks Russ & Steve), I didn't actually get in until last night with everyone else. Slacker, I know. But I wanted to share my initial thoughts. I will stress - I've had access for less than 24 hours, so I don't have all the ins and outs down. 

There are 3 main components of Google+: 

  • Circles - organize your friends into groups to share info
    • I'm still struggling with how I'll use this, and I know others are as well. You're able to send certain info (like Sparks, below) to specific groups. So kind of like if you could only tweet to certain people? 
  • Sparks - your feed of information from the web that you can share with friends. My first thought was Zite, the iPad app.
    • If you become a big Google+ user, I see the point of this. It's where you get your info. But you really get to search and add anything you want, so I'll be interested to see how drowning (or the opposite - useful) the information will be.
  • Hangouts - up to 10 video chat feeds at a time
    • Absolutely love this feature. Last night I was chatting with 6 people in 3 time zones. Almost like we never left ISTE. By default, the person who is making noise (not necessarily just talking) shows in the main screen. That can be a little distracting, but just by clicking on one of the video thumbnails holds it on that person's video.

The more I thought about Hangouts, the more value I could see in education. As a principal or teacher, I could create a circle of district (or outside of district) experts. In a team meeting, if something came up, I could send them a quick invite to a Hangout to join in the conversation. It's really what I thought group video calling in Skype could become, but here you can send the invite all at once for whoever is available to join. Imagine the tools at the hands of those schools who are Google Apps schools? By the way, I still haven't heard from any school that isn't upset about moving to Google Apps.
Will Google+ cause me to keep my Droid and forget about an iPhone? Lets not go that far. But it's definitely got more promise than Buzz and more momentum than Wave ever did. It will also be interesting to see if people move from Twitter to the Google+ stream, or at least how they use each going forward.

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