THE NEW GOOGLE PLUS looks and feels more functional but not on your phone. The service continues connecting me to a different--and wider--swath of people than I know on any other network.
I interact a few times every day on Google Plus and have significantly more people following me there than on Twitter. In fact, if there was a stack of Mulleybucks for the person in Ireland with the most followers on G+ I'd take the winnings and enjoy a La Cucina coffee.
I like the way I can slide from community to community by zooming into various G+ circles I've made for photographers, writers, communicators, artists, technologists, company founders and plebes. I’m also using Google Plus for exceptionally effective private collaboration, complete with video hangouts, compartmentalised document controls, and shared moments with extended family.
There are other services for all these things but G+ is free, notifications appear politely above my browser and I like the way I can efficiently convert a simple paragraph of text on G+ into a reader of a blog post. It's not just me--on the quiet days during the slow Easter break, others noticed that their G+ activity brought them as much referrer traffic as things they tweeted.
If you haven't seen the new look of Google Plus, you might notice in the screenshot how the left-hand Google Plus menu bar, the “ribbon,” lets you quickly go to your favorite Google Plus service. You can edit the ribbon and place your favourite service at the very top. Or you can remove a service from view and tuck it into the "More" box. Hovering over some apps reveals sets of quick actions for them.
I like going directly into quick actions for photos because I can add images from my phone or my online albums (G+ and Picasa). I really like Google's "instant upload" facility because it removes a lot of hassle from the snaps we take on four different handsets in the house. Magically, when I'm away at work, I view photos our 4yo is shooting around the house. She's got her own private photo albums now, shared with other pre-school kids and family friends. I can quickly clean up all photos in my G+ accounts (we have four of them so there's always an easy Hangout going) since the images are a click away from Google’s Web-based Picasa photo editor.
I like how it's a lot easier to start video hangouts. It's much easier to hangout on G+ than it is to set up a Skype video call. We've had five people at a time join a Hangout in activities we've done at LIT-Clonmel. Hangouts feel a lot more impromptu.
The changes made to the G+ display this week are the biggest in the nine month public offering of the service. They feel very smooth even on a one-bar 3G mobile laptop in Ireland and some of them follow functionality you'd find in other networks (i.e., there's a Trending on Google+ displayed on the home page like you see on Twitter and you can spot all your online friends in a column like on Facebook).
Here's a little insight into how I use Google Plus. I dive into G+ for several minutes at a time, normally scrolling down several J-strokes (tapping the letter J moves me down one person at a time). It's easier to maintain the noise in each circle by using a slider that regulates the amount of each circle’s flow into my main G+ page. I have a full-on AA feed that gives me as much business intelligence as I get from selected lists on Twitter. If I want to see who is talking Moodle, I go directly to my Edchat circle.
For a while, people were talking about the excess white space on the new Google Plus. Although it might be a place where you can drop your own gadgets (a YouTube feed or a weather widget), I reckon it's going to hold targeted advertising. And when that happens, you won't be able to squelch the howlers.