Google+ review [iPhone]
We review Google+ on iPhone to find out if it deserves a +1, or whether the two positives cancel each other out
So, Google's back with yet another online revolution, eh? Apparently twenty million people jumped onboard in the first month, so evidently there's something about Google+ capturing the world's attention. Certainly the Big G gets some things right, such as generating interest for a hot - nay, ultra-hot - new service. But there are places where the Internet giant falls down and Google+ is no different.
Launching and designing new ways to use the Internet, and not simply spend your time browsing it is a strength that's seen Google become the caretaker of cyberspace. The only trouble is, it seems to think everyone knows everything it's doing and fails to explain what it's groundbreaking new stuff actually is. Anyone remember Google Wave? Sure you do. But did you ever have any idea what it actually was?
So you might well be feeling the same way about Google+, yet fortunately there's a shortcut. It's just like Facebook, really. Yeah, we're sure lots of people will prickle when we say that, and understandably for the some part, but at its core Google+ is Google's answer to the social networking phenomenon that is Facebook.
The iPhone app boots you straight into the Google+ stream, which displays whatever random thoughts your contacts are currently having. These contacts are grouped into Circles, which is how Google+ helps you to keep your social address book organised. These Circles can also be used to refine the stream of consciousness that's filling up your Google+ wall... er, sorry, stream.
Naturally you can send your own thoughts and musings to the... stream, including pictures taken directly from the iPhone or from the Camera Roll. Nothing too special about that, but Google+ makes much more of an effort when it comes to geotagging.
Every new thought you send up-Stream is automatically attached to your current location, but you can refine that GPS data very easily. With a single tap you can change it to be a bit more vague (just your current town, rather than an exact pinpoint location), no geotagging at all, or you can tap a nearby location to check-in at the same time as posting.
Checking into locations is another big part of Google+, and although it doesn't seem to be active yet (Ed - at the time of writing), we expect this to tie in very closely with Google Maps before long. After all, why wouldn't it?.
Your posts can be allocated to different Circles just as easily, allowing you to make individual posts visible across the net, to people in your extended Circles - friends of friends - or to specific Circles. The benefit here, it seems, is that you could create something of a private Facebook with very specific people, and that might well turn out to be a very powerful feature in just the right circumstances.