Welcome to Google Plus! So you’ve signed up, logged in and edited your profile. But if you’re looking around the site and thinking to yourself “now what?” then you’ve come to the right place. While there are many components that set Google Plus apart from other social networking sites, here are the top 10 things you should know about Google Plus.
1. Automatic Photo Uploading
If you are someone that likes to take risqué pictures on your cell phone to send to unsuspecting recipients, then you should know that the Google Plus Android application has an option for automatic upload. Meaning, if you take a picture on your cell phone it will automatically be loaded onto your account. This can be beneficial for those who are not avid sexters as the automatic upload allows users to instantly store and share images without having to import them onto your computer.
2. Circles, Circles, Circles
The whole “circles” aspect is a little weird at first. However, circles combine the best of twitter and Facebook; you can follow people without being friends, strangers can follow you, and you can decide who sees what. Let’s focus on the most important part first; you have the option to decide which circles read your posts. You can post family specific statuses (“spending the weekend deep cleaning my house whilst reading meaningful poetry and enriching my mind”) and also friend specific messages (“Why is there a squirrel, a clown’s nose and a donkey in my bed? Did I really have that much tequila last night?”) while deciding who sees what. You no longer have to worry about your grandmother and boss finding out about your weekend proclivities, nor do your friends need to find out about your American Idol addiction. Also, an added benefit is that no one else can see your circle setup, so feel free to rank your friends and family accordingly.
The “following” aspect is pretty neat; like twitter, you can follow individuals without them following you back and vice-versa. However, unlike twitter, you can decide what is public and what is not. Again, the freedom to decide which circles read your statuses is surprisingly freeing, as long as you don’t forget and accidentally post your Kirk fetish to your public stream.
3. Not Likely to be Blocked at Work/School
If you’ve ever needed a quick Facebook fix in the middle of a slow work day, then you might have realized that most businesses are blocking access to Facebook, twitter and other social networking sites. However, as Google Plus is really an extension of Google and Gmail, businesses are less likely to see it as something that needs to be blocked. Plus, many companies are utilizing Google Plus as a new form of LinkedIn, so those working at companies focused on marketing will often find that Google Plus slips under the firewall.
4. Google+ Hangouts
Google Plus has a “hangout” option, which allows up to ten people to video chat at once. It’s the modern version of the chat room, except now those who are slow typers are no longer penalized. But don’t worry; hangouts are not only video based, but also chat based, so you can feel free to type if you’re too shy to talk. Why is this cool? First, this is pretty fantastic for anyone trying to put together a business meeting or group project. It’s not always possible to get a group of people in the same room for a collaborative project, so now you can swap ideas while wearing your pajamas.
Within a group hangout, you can also have a private chat by hitting SHIFT-Q and then typing in an individual’s name. Congratulations, you are having a side-bar conversation! Now be careful about which one you’re typing in.
5. No Ads
Try to contain your excitement for a moment while you read the following sentence. Currently there are no advertisements on Google Plus. That’s right; no ads tailored to your recent key strokes will be floating around on your page. Never again will you be creeped out when you change your relationship status to single and suddenly have nothing but advertisements for ice cream and suicide hotlines. This means you’ll not only have a cleaner page, but you will also have faster loading times.
6. Unlimited Photo Storage
While you may not love that your pictures are automatically added to Google Plus, you will love the fact that you have almost unlimited storage through Picasa. Feel free to post as many videos of your cat and dog engaging in an epic battle while dressed as characters from opposing World of Warcraft factions.
If you’ve ever been on Facebook and realized that your friend’s profile picture is being used in a herpes cream ad, then you know that there is little privacy on Facebook. Google Plus allows users to easily customize every single aspect of their account. Not only do you get to choose who sees your posts (public, private, circle specific) but you can do the same with your pictures, and information. This is something that Facebook is starting to implement, but Google Plus allows you to choose what level of privacy you want for each section. For example, if you decide to post information about your job, then you can choose to only have close friends view the information, while allowing other circles to see general information, such as your job title, but not the location of where you work. After you’ve posted something, you can click “limited” to find out who can actually see what you are sharing. Now you’ll never be surprised again!
8. Photo Editing
Google Plus allows for users to edit their pictures after they have been uploaded. You can rotate, change the color and contrast, and cross process your photos. The little wand icon allows you to auto fix your picture, or you can choose “Creative Kit” and add effects, text or decorations.
9. Post Editing
Have you ever posted a status only to realize that you made some sort of egregious error, such as choosing the wrong word (there/their/they’re) or realizing that punctuation really is your friend. After all, a single comma can determine whether you’re a loving grandchild or a cannibal, as seen in the following: “let’s eat, Grandma” and “let’s eat Grandma”. Seriously, punctuation saves lives. But I digress; Google Plus allows users to edit statuses and comments after they have been posted. No longer do you have to delete a post only to decide whether to repost or give up, as you can simply make the change and pretend it never happened.
On the right hand side of your home page is a little button for YouTube. Type in anything you want into the search bar and a window will pop up with not only a video, but an entire playlist. So if you are finding Pandora too be a bit too unpredictable for your taste, you can have music (and videos) streaming while you chat with friends. Or, if you are like me, you can have a constant stream of funny kitten videos playing to keep you from getting too melancholy. No one likes a melancholy social networker.