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I'VE NOW SEEN A GOOGLE I CAN FALL IN LOVE WITH

I've spent a couple of days now playing around with Google plus and after a brief chat with Googlers +Matthew Levine and +Brynn Evans I would like to share a few thoughts.

Right off the bat I could see that Google plus is going to be big. The interface is inviting and intuitive, and there are some big ideas here; big ideas in the best way -- they are simple and powerful and easy to understand.

1. Circles are the first thing that captivated me. I remember several years ago telling a business friend about LinkedIn, and I also remember his response very well:

"This won't work for me Dave because this isn't the way I think about my networks. I can't just let everybody see everybody. There are levels and nuances to this."

My friend is a serial entrepreneur and someone I have a lot of respect for, and he was right. Social networks are complex and nuanced. They overlap and intertwine in subtle ways. Circles is a big huge leap in the right direction.

2. Hangout is another big idea. Face-to-face conversations are also full of subtle and nuanced interactions. When we are in a conversation we watch each others' faces, constantly assessing their level of interest and engagement.

Most online conversations, including most online meetings, make text or slides the center of focus. This is helpful and important, but the big missing piece is the feedback and engagement that comes when people can see each other sitting around a table. Hangout feels like hanging out with friends. Now if Google would just make it possible for one of your "friends" to be a shared whiteboard, shared document or slide deck, Hangout would move from a great social too to a game-changing business tool for distributed teams.

3. The third big thing I see in the plus rollout is Design. And I write that with a capital D because Google plus clearly stands head-and-shoulders above previous Google launches.

My previous conception of Google, which I think is shared by a few people, was that Google was an engineering-driven, R&D-oriented company that did a lot of experiments and focused on growing and nurturing the successful ones. This is a wonderful approach to a point, but it never seemed that Google was very good at connecting the experiments in such a way that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. This is a bit of an exaggeration, because certainly having one contact list and one sign-on across the many Google domains has been a powerful connective thread with many advantages.

But with Plus, Google has now demonstrated an intention to connect the experiments with a simple, intuitive, clean interface that's elegantly designed and easy to use.

There are a lot of little things that can still be improved and tweaked, and there are also a lot of big ideas that can still be incorporated -- and I will be happy to share thoughts on all that! -- but the big thing here is that with this new clean interface all those big ideas and tweaks can now find a home within a comprehensive framework.

For the first time I have seen a "Google OS" that I could fall in love with.

Congratulations to my friends at Google, I think you have really hit it out of the park this time. You should all be very proud and happy with the excellent job you have done here. You have stepped up your game significantly and I thank you!
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19 comments
 
Thanks for your thoughts, Dave!

"There are a lot of little things that can still be improved and tweaked, and there are also a lot of big ideas that can still be incorporated -- and I will be happy to share thoughts on all that!"

We'd be happy to hear them! I'm looking forward to your future posts.
 
Thanks Dave! That's gratifying to read coming from you!
 
Thank you. The praise is well-deserved. This is a new Google.
 
"Now if Google would just make it possible for one of your "friends" to be a shared whiteboard..."

Nice! ;-)
 
That would be nice wouldn't it?
 
+Dave Gray Thanks — I know this means a lot to the team who's been working so hard on it! Let's Hangout again soon :)
 
Hey Dave, Thanks for the kudos, especially on Hangouts! As Brynn and Matt said, a lot of people have been working very hard to build something that people can actually fall in love with. Welcome aboard, we are glad you are here!

P.S. Everyone else on the thread. Thanks for your suggestions. We are definitely taking note of them. Keep them coming.
 
What if Google opens up Plus via an API? With perhaps two modes:

1. Robot users that are similar to regular users but programmed to offer various features to anyone who adds them to a Circle. I can see a lot of ways they would be useful

2. API users as proxy/delegate of regular users. For example I might login but also fire up such a proxy service as a whiteboard to share via hangout. I'm referring to these as proxies because ideally the same service could be used simultaneously by lots of different users each with their own process.

The API might also offer other shared experiences for users - I can easily see how games combined with the "extended circle" concept might be really really fun. Ie fire up a game instance, also Hangout, and either open it up to a select circle, to an extended circle or to the public. 
 
Dave, I agree completely. But what surprised me most is the ability that Google had to steer and change completely the course of the company. Now, this is good design. Sure, social networks are more than design, but this time they are getting a lot of things right: the launch, the privacy, the notification system (the toolbar is underestimated, but very powerful, that's my favorite part).

There are things that I'll improve, but the base is solid, now they just have to keep it simple - and in a few cases, simplify (I think that Hangout can be better integrated and simpler, but I digress) but there's almost nothing that went wrong this time, and everybody is noticing that.

There's only one thing that I'm missing right now: the ability to push tweets into my stream here, or more precisely, into one or more Circles. :P
 
Yep -- and also to push stuff from here out to Twitter, FB etc.
 
Exactly, I'm looking for a possibility like that as well, as I'd like to automatically push new blog articles and/or tweets to my Google+ stream.

That I've been doing it manually for the last days is due to the fact that I'm really fascinated by Google+ in a way I never thought I could be. I've never liked Facebook at all and I'm still trying to figure out why there's such a big difference to me. Partially, it definitely is the usability which is simply crappy on FB, partially it might be the people hanging out here, which - of course - might change with more and more people using Google+.
At the moment, I've got the feeling that people are sharing interesting and useful information more than everyday stuff no one is really interested in except their best friends - another definitive point for the Circles concept which I think is really great.

I'm really curious to see how Google+ is gonna evolve with more and more people coming in, in the meantime, I'm just gonna enjoy it..
 
Yeah, I'm curious too -- and I'm enjoying it too. I hope it lasts :)
 
Dave, thank you for your very kind words. The entire team appreciates this encouragement!
 
Thanks +Vic Gundotra it is well deserved. I am thrilled with G+ and hope to be here for a long time to come.
 
Just bought a Google phone (Galaxy Nexus) which has led me to being a newbie to gmail and Google features. I find the idea fantastic, having one stop for everything with data sitting out in cloud with accounts synched across devices. However, I was amazed at how unintuitive some things are. For example, to find contacts on Gmail you have to KNOW that its FOUND under Gmail pulldown tab! The word "contact" does NOT show up nor can be found on main Gmail url...astonding. It took me a while to figure this out. Also I was having trouble synching to my phone and finding the darn help from calendar to get me where I needed to go was quite unintuitive. Quite surprising given my expectations of a nice clean intuitive interface. Just getting started with GooglePLus..the "introductory video" that was presented when I signed up was incredibly uninformative, reminds me of funny scene on 30 Rock (I think) with Steve Martin pitching an ad that sounds great and incredible and life changing but says absolutely nothing :) I'm getting much more information from your blogs than from frontpage of Google+
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