Employees are bringing their own iPhones, iPads and Androids to work at an unprecedented rate. To the disappointment of many, there is no one-size-fits-all method to address end-user privacy and network security concerns. Use this forum to discuss how you’ll beat devices to the door with a well-founded BYOD policy.
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An invite to try out Google+ as a Field Trial member appeared in my Gmail Inbox yesterday. Ordinarily, I would be like a kid again tearing into my next birthday present (a common response to new content from Google—right?). But this was different: my 22-year-old self had the prominent figure of Mark Zuckerberg sitting on one shoulder and years of efficacious Google search queries (that had been returned to me at light speed) on the other. I tried to snap out of it. This wasn’t a life changing decision; since signing up for Twitter more than a year ago I haven’t “tweeted” anything and have managed to keep in touch with the outside world just fine.
I became relieved shortly after creating my account and submitting my personal information. Glancing over the interface, I saw no need to burden myself with a revamp of social networking life. With Google+, Google has essentially reinvented the social networking wheel.
For starters, let’s explore the “Circles” feature. Google has tried to market this as revolutionary, different from anything Facebook has ever had. I’ve found that it only provides more of the same. It allows you to put each new friend into a specific group that you make for yourself at the onset of your friendship (e.g., Best Friends, Family, Co-workers).
Don’t forget Facebook also has an “Add to List” feature that allows you to do the same thing, but most people choose not to. People want to see updates from the all of the people they’ve added as friends—that is, after all, the crux of social networking! Most Facebookers will make sure to ignore friend requests from people they don’t want seeing their posts, photos, and videos. They’re also able to customize security settings to prohibit unwanted eyes from viewing their content. Either way, when you do post new content, Facebook gives you the option use your discretion to decide who sees it (e.g., Everyone, Friends of Friends, Only Friends, Custom).
Playing devil’s advocate, it’s safe to say that Circles eliminates your need to think before you post. This is undeniably applicable to many situations. People have different senses of humor and may not find your recommended YouTube videos just as hilarious. Most people don’t care how much you decided to have to drink on Saturday night—or where you checked in to in the process. And you can bet your buddies don’t care to read streams of what you send your significant other every day. Google+ makes you think about your audience every time you choose to post new pictures, thoughts, and links (and this is easy to do because Circles segments these audiences for you from the start). Will this slightly different posting mechanism influence 750 million Facebook users to go in another direction? Doubtful.
As for the other features, “Sparks” are almost exactly the same as page “Likes” on Facebook—anytime new content is posted on one of the pages you like, you will see updates on your News Feed (or what Google+ calls the “Stream”). The only plus this has on Facebook is the ability to filter your Stream based on who is in close proximity to you. This feature may however be redundant; if someone is doing something relevant to where they are, they usually provide that in the context of their status update.
The “Huddle” feature has a slight edge on Facebook, as it allows you to chat with multiple friends and Circles in real time whether you’re on the computer or using your mobile device. Though you can do the same thing by posting on the wall of an Event or Group on Facebook, the conversation can progress much more quickly on Google+ because people are invited to participate rather than individually making the decision to do so. But just as with Circles, there is nothing monumental about it. Mass texting is available on platforms such as Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone—all of which will support the Google+ app that has Huddling as a feature. But take into consideration that most on-the-go plans are made through a mobile phone’s SMS. This is because no one needs to be logged in to an App to be reached!
The only standout plus that G+ brings to the table is the “Hangouts” feature, which allows up to 10 people to have a conversation over video chat. Facebook currently gives users the option to post a video on a friend’s wall, but does not offer a multi-person video chat option. But think about Skype for a minute, the software that is synonymous with video chatting. This is the company Facebook has chosen to partner with for establishing their new video chat feature, which allows two people to have a live video conversation over Facebook. Though this new feature will be limited to one-on-one conversation, Skype is involved; the edge that Google might have on Facebook is looking a lot less sharp.
There it is—you’ve heard my piece on Google+. Don’t let me discourage you from signing up when the time comes; over 20 million new users are expected to be on G+ by the end of the weekend. Just don’t be surprised when it fails to take down the social networking Goliath that is Facebook.