In the Bible account of Genesis humanity attempted to build a tower in the city of Babel so tall that it would reach into the heavens and thus allow them to make a name for themselves. God observed this activity and realising their potential power as one race under one language decided to confuse their languages so that they could not understand each other and therefore force them to spread out across the land. If you use Google+, Gmail and other products that use Google Chat then you may feel like the residents of Babel at times, especially when it comes to using them across multiple devices. Google have been working on a way to unify all these chat streams and the end result appears to be a product aptly (or ironically) named Google Babel.
Will Google Babel unify it’s various chat sources?
Information is supposedly meant to be leaked and directed from “sources” at the moment so I wouldn’t quote any of the following but the basic concept is to integrate Google’s chat products; even to the extent of cross-platform notification syncing meaning that if you read and reply to a message on your mobile phone then it will automatically be marked as read on your computer or tablet for example. I personally haven’t had a problem with this but I have definitely come across plenty of people who have complained about the current system, it will be a handy update to have regardless and one that actually reminds me of how Facebook instant messaging already functions.
A leaked Google memo brought out the main features we can expect from Google Babel:
A new interface that can be applied across all platforms and products.
All of these platforms and products will be fully synced allowing there to be just one conversation list and therefore a more fluid experience.
A desktop app so you don’t have to search across open tabs trying to find your conversation, the chat will continue outside the browser.
The ability to create group conversations and start Hangouts with them at the touch of a button.
Single time notifications keep things simple as opening one on your mobile for example will remove the notifications on your other devices.
Photos can now be sent between conversations along with more emoticons which helps make the current dull text boxes more interesting.
Chat history can be viewed simply by scrolling backwards in the conversation, something that I have personally been missing for ages.
If the memos and leaks are true then the service looks to be on the right track as every single of those bullet points look very appealing to me. Nonetheless Google still haven’t officially confirmed that Babel is to exist so it will definitely be interesting to see whether it gets a mention during Google I/O 2013.
On a separate note if you are looking for a quick break I would recommend checking out the main page of the Google I/O site, there are various codes hidden within it’s logo…
Can you find the codes? Share your findings in the comments!
As Google+ has progressed as a social network it has branched out and evolved into certain interests. As I scroll down my general feed now I will notice common themes such as stunning pictures of nature, lengthy posts about technology and hilarious videos among many other daily trends. As these trends (or what were once known as Sparks) strengthen it seems that their followings increase and eventually attract well known individuals in those particular fields.
A great addition to this is music as popular bands and musicians have been joining Google+ in a way to engage and interact with their fans. While Myspace has a strong music library it lacks the social connection between artist and fans; Twitter makes up for this yet has obvious limitations thus making Google+ a perfect medium for musicians to communicate to their fan-base and vice versa. James Joseph Howard, a London based Google employee fronting G+ music, made me aware a few months back of the music industry adopting Google+ as this medium and I have been taking an interest in the progress ever since. Over this period of time Google’s social network has seen some of the biggest bands in the industry sign up and even host Hangouts directly to the G+ community giving lucky individuals the opportunity to ask their own questions.
The whole setup works well as a band or artist will have their own page where they have the ability to reach out to fans and potentially even new audiences via posts, videos and Hangouts. Google+ users then have the opportunity to comment on these activities and between one another essentially creating a micro community based around that particular band or artist. Effectively the musicians are able to promote themselves and acquire feedback while the fans are happy being engaged with while seeing the latest updates on their favourite musicians.
If you want to check out which of these musicians are already on Google+ then you are in luck as James has kindly provided me with a circle which you add and share on your own Google+ profile. I am even considering creating a monthly post which will involve sharing a circle with you which includes the latest bands and artists that have signed up to Google+. Let me know your thoughts on this in the comment section everyone!
After almost a year of taking a battering from skeptical critics it seems that a majority are finally realising the potential behind Google+, especially after GlobalWebIndex released data that Google+ is now the second most used online service with 343 million members using the social network. With this rapid growth it is interesting to see how Google are crafting their social network in order to cater for these new users. The newest example of this is the re-branding of ‘Circles’ to the new coined name: ‘Find People’.
People joining the social network at this stage may have missed out on the initial hype and information on Google+’s features so terms such as ‘Circles’ and ‘Sparks’ most likely would have just caused newcomers to become confused. By renaming these features Google greatly reduce the risk of scaring these new members away and actually encourage them to interact with these features instead. In the case of ‘Find People’ interaction is exactly what Google wants as this will help increase their user base even further by encouraging individuals to invite their friends to G+ via other sources such as their Gmail contacts list. It is also a nice service for the public though as suggestions are provided according to your current and previous education, employment, etc, allowing you to quickly build and categorise your circles easily.
Another small but handy new feature worth mentioning is the ability to download all photos from a Google+ event. Previously this would be a long drawn out process as photos would have to be downloaded one by one but can now be downloaded at once by going to the particular event page, clicking on the Actions drop down menu and then selecting Download event photos.
It’s a new year and I am finally settled back in England. The trip to Google in Mountain View, California, was absolutely amazing and definitely a dream fulfilled. The summit I attended was purely AdWords focused and I didn’t meet anyone from the Google+ team unfortunately so I’m sad to say I have nothing G+ related to share from the trip. I can say that those offices are a hive of activity though and that there is certainly no slowing down from Google; I’m sure we are going to be seeing product and feature releases for a long time moving ahead in the future.
Shortly after returning from America I headed to Africa for a couple of weeks but actually managed to create a post about the new G+ communities before making the journey. To my horror that post pushed the entire blog over the edge and I thought I had lost the entire blog but thankfully my hosting provider managed to roll back the blog before that published post which resurrected the whole thing. So now everything is back to normal, I’m back in freezing England and I would like to bring a small G+ feature update to your attention.
Google employee, Dave Cohen, created a public post last on Google+ last night stating that desktop users now have the opportunity to pan and zoom photos for a better viewing experience. It may seem strange that there has been so much focus on the photo side of G+ but when browsing through my stream (and most likely yours too) it’s amazing to see how many G+ members use the social network as an image blog similar to the likes of Tumblr. Google have obviously noted this and are making an effort to keep this section of their market entertained by offering great features and the best user experiences possible.
Zoom in using the mouse wheel and then click and drag the image to pan around.
To try this new feature simply open a lightbox by clicking on a photo of your choice and then use your mouse wheel to zoom in or out and click and drag the image to pan around the zoomed area. High resolution pictures are going to work best with this feature as nobody enjoys zooming into a low quality pixelated picture so I recommend you experiment with Dave Cohen’s post picture as an example. The new feature personally reminded me of Ebay’s zoom and pan system which allows potential purchasers to review the product they want to buy (for possible scratches and defects) in greater detail. Feedback in the post’s comments section have been very positive which is great to see for a fairly small and simple feature.
When I originally created this blog I decided that I wanted to keep it entirely Google+ related…
…but I can’t contain my excitement.
Google are hosting their AdWords Communities Global Summit on October 16th – 17th at their headquarters in Mountain View, California, and as one of their Top Contributors for the AdWords Community Google have very kindly invited me along to the Summit. I will be joining over 60 of the most prolific and knowledgeable contributors from the new Lithium based communities across a variety of languages.
I have had a look at the agenda lined up for us and I have to say it’s going to be a very busy two days including appearances from business and product leaders within Google as well as developers and engineers who make AdWords what it is. The second day is to be focused on the communities themselves in an attempt to brainstorm ideas and get an idea of what the future of social support for the AdWords product will be like. Combining all this with workshops, sessions and fun social activities makes the Summit sound like a highly educational and fun experience which I can’t wait to be part of.
Hopefully I will get some sort of insight into the development of Google+ at the same time. Either way, I shall let you all know how I get on!
When Google+ was first established and released to the public it disallowed businesses using Google Apps (such as Docs and Gmail) from signing up to the social network. In November 2011 however, Google made the wise decision of introducing Google+ Pages which gave companies an initial step into the world of G+. While not providing businesses with a full service it gave brands, products and services the opportunity to gain additional social exposure and awareness while also being a nice alternative to Facebook. During this period Google+ also introduced additional options to it’s Hangout feature in an attempt to have more businesses use the social service; allowing multiple people to have a video conference while editing Google docs was one excellent idea of many for example. A year has almost passed since these updates however so what have Google+ been working on from a business perspective?
“So today we’re launching an initial set of Google+ features designed specifically for businesses, and we’re excited to move into a full preview mode for Apps customers. During this preview period, organizations that have gone Google will be able to use the business features of Google+ for free through the end of 2013 while we continue to add more features and administrative controls designed for organizations.”
Private Sharing for your Organisation
Sharing private information over a social network might not sound like the greatest idea but precautions have been put in place on Google+ in case you wish to do so. “Restricted Posts” give you more control over the content you share on Google+ allowing you to keep information within your organisation without the concern of posts being re-shared to exterior parties. I have to admit it took me a while to think of instances of where this could be useful but I suppose open announcements and questions can be displayed within company connections allowing discussions to take place without the risk of information leaking to connections who shouldn’t be aware of it.
In addition to the privacy controls admins can now set default settings for the entire organisation to ensure that all information is retained securely.
Further Hangout Integration
Google have gradually integrated their products with Google+ since the release of the social network. Over this period Hangouts have seen the introduction of being able to access Google Docs mid-meeting with up to 10 people on a variety of different devices at the same time, while this can all be initiated straight from Gmail rather than having to access Google+ first. This week users will have the ability to add Hangouts to their Google Calendar meaning they will be able to enter the meeting directly from their entry on that day and hour.
Set up scheduled Hangouts so nobody missed an online meeting.
So it seems that Google+ might be more approachable from a business perspective if they keep progressing in this way. Will you guys be using any of these features or do you already?
Following suit with Facebook, Google+ has released an Events feature allowing it’s users to organise themselves both socially and commercially online. At first glance it’s easy to say Google have just taken a direct copy of Facebook’s event model but at a closer look we can see there is more to the Google+ version.
The first and most outstanding feature of Google+ Events is ‘Party Mode‘, designed to engage mobile users who want to share their favourite moments. When attending an event you will receive a notification as it begins which prompts you to activate Party Mode, enabling this allows you to instantly and automatically share pictures in real-time with other event attendees while keeping everything organised within the event’s page. There is even the option to use a “live slideshow” which allows guests to show their captured moments as the event goes on. Gone are the days of missing albums due to cameras being lost, I’m pretty sure it would have made things more simple for The Hangover guys.
The whole organisation behind Google+ Events is also well designed as Google Calendar is used to sync these upcoming occasions giving you and other guests reminders and details of the event. Organising Google+ Hangouts wasn’t the smoothest of operations originally as hosts would have to rely on a post (which would eventually get lost in the stream) and remind it’s attendees to actually join the Hangout; thankfully events addresses this issue as you have the option to plan a Hangout in the same way you would a physical social event meaning that everyone invited is kept in the loop.
Don't forget to check the 'Advanced' drop down for more options.
You don’t have many personal friends on Google+ or they aren’t the type to host or go to events? The Google+ community is a friendly place and Google have recognised this by giving it’s users the ability to find public events, simply scroll down the list and find one that is appropriate to your interests. I foresee this having a massive impact on larger companies wanting to promote their products and services via organised events open to the public, there is no better free way to get as much attention as this feature is offering.
For the Android users out there I would strongly suggest checking out the free Google+ app available in the Google Play store, just don’t blame me when you wake up to a shared album of unsightly pictures after a long night with Party Mode left on!
I came across a new Google+ YouTube video recently and was reminded of a cool feature; while not necessarily new I still thought I would bring it to your attention and also share the video as it’s pretty heart warming.
As shown in the video, you have the opportunity to instantly upload any pictures you take with your mobile phone. As soon as you snap a shot it is sent to an album of your choice on your Google+ profile. Users might be concerned that sensitive pictures (like baby photos as shown in the video) are exposed to the public but you have the ability to change privacy settings and then later re-allocate the pictures to albums of your choice. This allows your pictures to be stored safe and securely even if you lose the device they were taken on, pretty neat right?
It’s been a while since I created a post, basically because… it’s been a while since anything exciting happened with Google+? Despite the lengthy period without any updates and constant attacks by bloggers claiming that “Google+ is dying” it seems that the social network is running steadily along with it’s users now understanding what the Google+ culture is all about. Google’s new update should expand this culture further for those who are using the Google+ app on their phone as another Google product is integrated with the social network.
Google have teamed their product Google Places with Zagat to create Google+ Local, a simple and efficient way to share and discover local knowledge using reviews and maps. Let’s say I had just arrived in New York and stepped outside my hotel wanting to try a pizzeria, using Google+ Local and a quick search of “pizzeria” I am presented with all the pizza establishments close to my current location along with reviews for each one. Thankfully this service is not restricted to mobile devices and is accessible via the desktop version of Google+ here, useful if you are planning to visit a location and want to check out reviews on businesses before you get there as you can set a location of your choice when carrying out a search.
So where do these reviews come from? The short answer is you. The internet is now saturated with review websites allowing the public to see what others think of a product, service or place before trying it out for themselves; the amazing thing is that this has become an online culture and people are willing to leave reviews for free generally without incentives. This is where Zagat comes in, using previous reviews left on the website before this partnership Google+ Local already has a database to offer to it’s users without having to frantically encourage it’s members to start leaving their own reviews. A scale system 0f 0 to 3 is used across different categories depending on what type of business is being reviewed (Atmosphere in a restaurant for example) and then multiplied by 10 to gain averages when compared against many reviewers scores. Upon completion of the review you are also given the opportunity to share it on Google+ to circles of your choice, an excellent (or negative) promotional feature for the business in question. I am just curious to what has happened to the original Google Places 5 star reviews…
Zagat's simple review system.
So after reading this I imagine a lot of you are quietly thinking, “Well this just sounds like a clone of Foursquare with an achievement system missing”. I am a loyal Google+ user but I would have to agree with you, I can’t see much difference apart from the fact that Google+ is a much larger medium to share information with and Google Places was already well established. I can’t see myself moving from Foursquare to Google+ Local due to the perk system offered by the former, perhaps Google will encourage their Google Places for Business users to start offering coupons or vouchers of some sort. Will you guys be using this new update?
Not too much has been happening in the world of Google+ recently but on Tuesday (April 24th) Google’s developers introduced a Google+ Share button. The basic idea is that while browsing content around the web you have the ability to share content to your Google+ stream without having to leave a +1 on the site. The idea might seem a pointless practice at first glance but Google (as always) have their reasons for the feature. Let’s say you were reading a controversial article about negative war practices for example, you wanted to share the article with your circles but at the same time did not wish to appear insensitive on the topic by giving a +1, the Share button gives you an opportunity to do this.
What is your opinion on the new button?
There have been a few Google+ users who are sceptical about the feature either claiming that it’s functionality isn’t different enough to have it’s own button separate to the standard +1 or that introducing an additional button will cause poor interface usability experiences. Cihan Demiral commented on the official Google+ Developer post the following -
“All right, let me get this straight: When you click on the +1 button, it lets you share via a pop-up — now we’ve got another button that only lets you share content, sans +1-ing it. Correct? Fantastic.
You could’ve made it so upon clicking a +1 button, it would give you the usual sharing pop-up, but there could be a +1 button right next to that green ‘Share’ button; that +1 button I proposed would also function as ‘Close’ — ‘+1 and close this pop-up’. Boom, ~5kb less js on every page on the internet and, more importantly, less confusion about the functionality of G+.
But no, it would be too simple. You’re right. Congrats.”
A discussion also took place in the official AdWords community on whether introducing the button would create too much clutter within threads -