Yes. I’ve joined – and while it is early days yet, I am impressed with its intuitive simplicity and use of ‘circles’ for maintaining followers/friends. Some commentary that Google+ has poor security is, so far as I can tell, pure rubbish: security settings on Google+ are thorough and easy to figure out (if you bother to do so) – unlike Facebook’s notorious concerns with ‘opting in/out’ – Google + assumes the user wants more control and provides it.
Similar in style and layout to Facebook without all the ad clutter and with some functionality that reminds me of Twitter (though Twitter should not be in direct competition as it is an entirely different service) – namely in using ‘circles’ as a method to follow other users. Circling is an open method in that if you have a profile, others can follow it without you having to follow back. Circles can be organized so that you are only sharing specific information with a specific group: if you only want your friends to know about that birthday party on Friday, you can easily select them without posting to the general stream. Chat, video chat and phone options are also available and easy to use.
While I feel G+ is going to improve much on Facebook, it is still proprietary about its service. Unlike Twitter which has blossomed largely due to the ability of users to shape its function and the development of third parties with Twitter-related services that enhance the user experience, Google + is more likely to keep a tight hold on what will and will not be done through its service – and I’m sure ads are only a matter of time.
The big question: Why should I use it? If you’re on Facebook already, what would make you switch? I can’t answer that question as the services are basically the same – it is only a perceived ease of function and security that distinguishes Google + at this point. Those who have objected to Facebook’s legendary privacy issues might make a quick exchange, if only to see for themselves. The other concern is more of a complicated one: what is the benefit to you? We know our personal information is up for grabs almost anywhere we go online or off; Facebook and now Google + will have pages dedicated to business and high profile users that will facilitate sales in the guise of creating ‘relationships.’ This is the future of their function and you, the ostensible buyer, are the commodity being sold. It is your likes, tastes, interests and ideas that help design and power the machinery itself.
It reminds me in a sense, of the Cola Wars: are you a Pepsi fan or a Coke fan? The soft drink giants successfully divided up their customers while the product itself is essentially the same. Are you a Google fan or a Facebook fan? This, more than anything else, I think, will dictate who the future users will be. Marketing trumps all, in the end. Oh, and might be worth noting, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg already has his Google+ account.
If you’d like to check it out or ‘circle me’, here’s my profile – and I’m happy to send you an invite if you’d like.