Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Google Plus changes, nobody notices

Note: Post Originally Appeared at  IT World

Videos will help you figure out what's new in social network you've been ignoring

Imagine my surprise when I noticed that the Google team had posted six new videos around its Google+ social network, with how-to advice like how to set up your profile; how to share photos, videos and links; how to do a Hangout; how to add comments and "+1"; and what the heck Circles are.

At first, you'd think these are just videos that were meant to coincide with the social network's launch, and they're now getting published. But no, all of these videos are part of a site-wide update of new features for the site. For example, the profile page now includes a Facebook Timeline-like cover photo that you can add - so now not only can you add a photo of your face, but do one of those panoramic sweeping photos of the mountain that you climbed (or wish you had climbed).

The problem is, there are so few people on the site (compared to Facebook), you probably won't notice these changes unless someone comes up and tells you (like me). For anyone still excited about Google Plus, here are the new videos:

First up, an overview of the new features:

Next up, how to edit your profile, including adding the new "cover photo":

The third video is how to share different things with your friends, such as photos, videos and links:

The fourth video shows you how to do a Hangout, a giant video chat with other friends who are also sitting in front of their cameras, and do goofy thinks like wear a virtual pirate hat. Unlike something useful, like being able to record a Hangout and upload back to YouTube.

The fifth video shows you how to add a comment, push the "+1" button, and add insipid comments to all of the things that your friends are commenting on.

In the final video, we get a quick look at all of the work you need to do to separate all of your "friends" into smaller buckets, called "circles", in which you get to categorize people the way you see fit.

The more I watch these videos, the more annoyed I get with Google on this - maybe it's the crappy acoustic guitar music (Apple does the same thing with its videos and commercials) that aims to make it feel like this is so easy, but the fact is that all of this integration is making Google Plus harder than it needs to be. It's like we all got excited about Google Plus, but then didn't do anything about it - most of us, if we added a profile at all to begin with, just went back to Facebook and Twitter and the other social sites.

Maybe these new videos and profile changes and other updates will help, but it's still pretty lonely in the Google Plus town, other than people writing about Google Plus.