What Google+ needs now…

Google+ is a very new service. It isn’t generally released yet – Google are calling it “early alpha”. It isn’t surprising that there is functionality missing, and that some aspects of the service are a bit rough around the edges. So, as a follow-on to my first thoughts post, and not intended as criticism in any way, here are just a few things that I think need to come at some point. They are in no particular order…

More users

Maybe this actually is the most important thing? I know Google need to control user growth to make sure the platform is stable enough. The last thing they need is a¬†flaky¬†platform. Too many fail whales (I wonder what the Google equivalent will be, and if we’ll ever see it?) and people will stay away. But it is hard to be social when you don’t know many people here. I hope they decide soon that the platform is robust enough to open the gates a little wider. I have a queue of people asking me how to get in and my experience of Google+ will be greatly enhanced when they arrive!

A public API

There are a lot of services built around the Twitter API, and these enhance Twitter enormously. While Google have equivalents to some of these services already, they can’t hope to duplicate them all, and anyway new services are appearing all the time. Google really need to let third parties interact with Google+. I’m thinking specifically of third-party clients, photo/video services like Instagram and automation tools like ifttt.com. I think there’s also a lot of potential for services like Evernote to use Google+ as a social/collaboration layer.

Integration of more Google services

There’s so much potential for combining a social layer with Google Calendar, Sites, Docs, Maps/Latitude and others. The integration needs to be done carefully, and so probably won’t happen quickly. That’s fine. If this is done well it could be huge, and that’s worth waiting for! I do wonder what the implications of Google+ are for gmail – is there a place for gmail long-term (I mean years from now)?

More

There are lots of little things, too. Management of “circles” isn’t as easy as I’d like. Importing my Google Contacts groups as circles would be nice. I need Apple to approve the iOS app very, very soon…:-). I’d like to be able to add multiple types of media (photos, video, links) to a post, not just one. You can use some markup in posts, but not (yet) much – more markup would be nice. The more I think about it, the longer the list will get!

Summary

In summary, I think Google+ is off to a great start and while it is lacking in many ways, that’s perfectly understandable given the current stage of its development. What’s important now, more than anything, I think is that people get to use it and discover collectively how Google+ needs to develop, rather than bolting on a bunch of stuff that Twitter and/or Facebook have and turning it into a clone of one or other of them. Fewer lists of things Google needs to add and much more actual use of it. Oops…!

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