A friend wanted an invitation to Google Plus, and since I received mine a few days ago when someone shared a story with me, I thought it might work if I shared a story with her.
So, for half an hour today, I joined, with the view of sending her the invitation, and leaving as soon as I did that. Below is a cursory review without any analysis of Hangout or Sparks.
First step: I made my proﬁle public. Good news: I can still keep myself out of searches, according to Google, and I don’t have to give them a telephone number. Disturbing part: anyone with the URL to my proﬁle can still ﬁnd me. Since I have trust issues with Google—with good reason, this being the latest—I don’t believe them when they say they can keep me out of searches.
Bad news: I don’t have a choice of URL for my proﬁle.
Signed in. Nice, clean interface. I actually like the look and feel. Everything seems workable though it took a while for me to ﬁnd the Share feature up top.
Poked around a bit. Glad that under Plus, you can liberate your data from Google with downloads should you decide to cancel your account (tempting).
The account manager is better laid out than the former version.
Less impressive: the fact that Google Plus is set to spam you by default. If you’re like me, you’d want to turn off all email and SMS notiﬁcations.
Your Picasa album gets integrated with your Plus account, so the attribution might change. It doesn’t make much difference to me, since I have no photos on Picasa.
Other than Picasa, it didn’t need changes to the terms and conditions, though I read them again when I made my proﬁle public.
Found I was followed by six people. Five real friends. One complete stranger.
Since I have single strangers follow me on Buzz (which I don’t have), Contacts (which I don’t have) and Reader (which I don’t use), then I didn’t feel comfortable on Plus. I realize anyone can add you to their Circle and, like Twitter, that’s the point of it. I also realize I can share only with limited audiences.
I admit that one good point is that no companies and organizations are on it yet, so your feed only has real people. But that’s what my A Small World account is for, and my 33 friends there.
It’s fairly bug-free but so was Facebook, once upon a time. But you still can’t opt out of seeing Plus One links on other sites, despite Google’s claims.
Still, why would I want to be on a website that gives me constant worry with every moment I am signed on to it? It just reminded me of the constant stream of weird anonymous users trying to check out my activity on those other Google services.
And, right now, I can’t be arsed setting up new circles and all that jazz. I have followers’ lists on Twitter and four categories of “friends” on Facebook. On the latter, I am able to tailor my messages to each one of these groups.
The sharing method didn’t work with my friend, so I deleted my Google Plus (with thanks to Andrew Carr-Smith for giving me earlier info on this). Quite a painless procedure, actually—unlike so many of Google’s other services, I didn’t need to close my account and delete all services associated with it. Google calls it a ‘downgrade’.
Plus created a new folder on Picasa, which I had to delete manually there.
I then put my proﬁle back to normal, i.e. non-existent, other than my name. Funnily enough, Google allowed it, so there were no remnant data or any sign I had tried Plus—with the exception of my being unable to sign up to it when I now visit plus.google.com. I can now block the Plus cookie.
To me, it’s no big loss. That was probably the most overhyped experience I have seen online since Google launched Chrome (a.k.a. the ‘Aw, snap!’ browser), and other than sheer speed, that left me totally unimpressed, too.
Once the hype dies down, I don’t foresee this going anywhere (and yes, I am biased). It will get users, because a lot of people drink the Google Kool-Aid, but it’ll exist just like CNN and Fox News do. Till Google ﬁxes up the privacy bugs it has for the existing services I use, I am extremely hesitant to add any more.