It’s Not Really Dead: 7 Reasons To Start Using Google+ Today

I wake up in the morning, and check what’s new on Google+. Yes, really. Google is putting a lot of brawn and brains behind the social network everyone loves to hate, and it shows.

Google+ works hard to be a compelling choice in a world cluttered with competitors and entrenched leaders. Let me show you why it stands out.

Auto Backup

google plus auto backup   Its Not Really Dead: 7 Reasons To Start Using Google+ Today

Every photo I take with my phone automatically gets uploaded to Google+. Creepy? Yes. Useful? Definitely.

This is not a unique trick: Dropbox does this too, but it’s more limited. For one thing, photos uploaded onto Dropbox eat into your storage quota, while ones uploaded to Google+ are free by default — meaning, you can upload as many photos as you want without affecting your Google storage quota. That’s as long as you opt for what Google calls “Standard size” photos, which are up to 2048 pixels in width or height. Higher-resolution photos will eat into your storage quota, but then again, you won’t usually need those, at least not for sharing with friends.

And this brings me to the second Google+ advantage over Dropbox auto-upload: Once your photos are on Google+, it’s incredibly easy to share them with friends and family. Because Google+ revolves around so-called “circles” (fully explained in our Google Plus Guide), sharing with a set group of friends is trivial — you don’t even have to type out their names individually, just pick “Family” or “Work” or whatever you called that circle.

Auto Awesome

google plus auto awesome   Its Not Really Dead: 7 Reasons To Start Using Google+ Today

When I said Google was putting lots of brawn behind Google+, I didn’t mean a bunch of sweaty, muscular guys. We’re talking computing power here — as in massive server clusters that go through your photos one at a time, automatically selecting the best ones, and then making them even better. It’s called Auto-Awesome, and it’s like an even more “instant” version of Instagram — it happens before you even see your photo.

There are seven different types of Auto-Awesome effects, and you can read the full list in Google’s documentation. In a nutshell, Auto Awesome can create animated GIFs out of a series of similar photos; it can remove people and cars cluttering up landmark photos; it can automatically stitch panoramas for you; I could continue, but you get the picture.

In practice, Auto Awesome means Google+ isn’t just hosting my photos and letting me share them, but it often adds real value. I’ve had Google+ make cute animated GIFs of my cat (which I never would have done on my own… honest), create a collage of baby photos, and create a highlight reel of all of my photos from 2013 (something Google did for everyone).

Find out more about Google+’s photo options.

Image Search That’s Borderline Creepy

google plus image search   Its Not Really Dead: 7 Reasons To Start Using Google+ Today

Go to the Google+ Photo Search page. Type the word “cat,” and press Enter. Photos of cats will come up, both from your own albums, and from your circles. I tried this with a bunch of other terms, such as chocolate, cake, graffiti, and building. They worked really well. And the creepy part is — nobody tagged those photos as “chocolate”.

Google’s image recognition algorithms can recognize what’s in your photo — not just face recognition (“This is Erez”), which Picasa has been doing for years — but other objects as well. This means you no longer have to create albums, nor do you need to manually tag images.

I know of no other service, offline or online, that allows for that level of sophistication in image search (and for free, too). From a technical standpoint, this is a very impressive accomplishment. Whether or not you feel comfortable with Google having that level of knowledge about you is a different matter.

Hangouts: Better Than Skype

Google+ is not just about your photos. Take Hangouts, for example — it roundly beats Skype at its own game. Hangouts allows for multi-participant video and audio chats, and lets people share their screen, work on Google Docs together, and collaborate with many different apps during the call. Hangouts automatically mutes participants when it thinks they’re making loud typing sounds, and there’s an app for wearing silly virtual masks, too.

You may not think of participating in a Hangout as “using Google+,” but Hangouts are an intrinsic part of the service. Google cunningly uses Hangouts to lure people into Google+ — when you chat with someone in Gmail and then switch to a video call, that’s a Hangout.

Active Communities

google plus community   Its Not Really Dead: 7 Reasons To Start Using Google+ Today

We’ve previously shown you a few of the most interesting Google+ communities, and the list has only grown since. Personally, I’m a big fan of the Holo Android Apps community, where people share their favorite Android apps.

What’s nice about communities is that you don’t have to know anyone — they’re just places to discuss mutual interests, and they make it easy to meet new friends. The Google+ interface makes it easy to filter out community noise, and each community can feature different post types. For example, the Holo Android Apps community lets you browse just discussions, just apps promoted by their developers, or even just health and fitness apps.

Finally (you guessed it), Google+ will even try to recommend relevant communities for you. Google knows you. Google loves you. Google wants you to make new friends.

Beta Tests for Android Apps

google plus beta communities   Its Not Really Dead: 7 Reasons To Start Using Google+ Today

This is a specialized use of the communities feature: Android developers can create communities that allow users to beta-test their apps. For example, I’m a long-time Libra user. When Daniel Cachapa, Libra’s developer, wanted to get feedback on a new version he was working on, he created the Libra Users community.

Community members got new Beta versions of Libra via Google Play. The experience was seamless: You just join the community, and suddenly, an update for Libra appears on your phone. Both impressive and convenient.

A Beautiful, Responsive Interface

google plus responsive   Its Not Really Dead: 7 Reasons To Start Using Google+ Today

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; responsiveness, not so much. A “responsive” website is one that looks good on different-sized screens, and indeed, Google+ is just as legible when taking an entire 24″ monitor as it is when squished into a narrow window. Reduce the window size, and the layout morphs accordingly, switching to single-column mode.

That’s just one example, but generally speaking, Google+ is one of the most modern and powerful Web apps available today.

Embrace It

Let’s face it: Unless you’re absolutely determined not to have anything to do with Google, chances are you already have a dormant Google+ profile sitting around. If you use Google, it’s not like you really have a choice. If parts of this post seem ambivalent, that’s because it’s hard to ignore just how creepily “friendly” Google+ is.

That said, the bottom line is that Google+ will save your photos; it will make them look better (usually); and it really is a great place to find fun content.

What do you love or hate about Google+?

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

41 Comments -

JR

…Now I’m 100% convinced to abandon G+. Thanks for that.

Erez Z

lol :D Sure thing — that’s something, too.

Jake Miliyah

Its the interface. Its totally none user friendly and a complete mess. It actually makes facebook look good, which is pretty amusing.

Risen D

yeah, i kinda liked a lot of the old one better. then they went and changed everything, and while they improved it in some regards with the interface upgrade-a lot less wasted space, yada yada-all in all they need to blend those two versions.

Magoo

I don’t see how someone could possibly think that facebook’s interface looks better. It is cluttered with ads, recommended pages, sponsors, chat bar, and every bell and whistle they could come up with. Privacy settings are way over-complicated and it’s difficult to manage who sees the content you post.

Jake Miliyah

Not when you have adblock, which makes facebook nice and tidy. With the ads I would never visit it, you`re right. Still doesn`t take away the fact that Google + is junk. And yes, I have tried it, and was using it for 12 months before ditching it. Ok, its not quite as bad a layout as Gmail, but thats another story.

Paul Werner

These type of articles are always much better than the ones where people just complain about G+ without taking the time to see it’s value

Erez Z

Thank you, Paul!

Liam Patterson

I want to +1 that comment Paul.

likefunbutnot

The #1 reason to use Google+: So Youtube and Picasa will stop bugging you.
The #2 reason to use Google+: So you don’t have to spend 15 minutes screwing around on Play Store pages looking for an email address to leave an app developer some feedback.

That said, neither of those things are good enough reasons. If anything, the fact that I have a non-social-networked Google Profile should enable all of the above.

Google has an extremely intimate relationship with my personal life and I still want it to know that it does not exist in a state of implied consent. No means no and I don’t care how often it asks.

Ryashini K

But… but my friends are not there :(

Manny

Then… invite them :)

Erez Z

That’s what’s cool — you can use it even without friends, thanks to communities (and the photo features).

Bobbster

You didn’t disclose how much Google paid for this endorsement.

Erez Z

If you think this was a paid endorsement, you should wait and read my next piece on how Google took my images and personal info hostage and wouldn’t let it go. Due to be published on the 13th — keep an eye out for it, it’s an interesting story on what happens when you trust Google with your data.

dragonmouth

” read my next piece on how Google took my images and personal info hostage and wouldn’t let it go.”
You just gave the best argument for staying away from Google+ and Google.

Erez Z

Actually it’s the best argument not to give them exclusive ownership over your data, which is a very important point to keep in mind.

Tom W

There are several reasons why I do not use Google+:

1) I have had to install a GreaseMonkey script for Youtube because Google has (unsurprisingly) completely neglected to allow me to uncheck “Post comment to Google+” by default, and I’m not going to manually uncheck it every time. This feature doesn’t make sense to me, because the comments are completely devoid of meaning unless you already have the context of the video and only serve to increase the already voluminous amount of social network spam that is released to the web every day.
I also had to write a second script because Google would continuously pester me to “Find friends using Google+” when all I wanted to do was view the dashboard.

2) Google+ is slow, at least for me. Every menu interaction lags behind input, every page loads at a snails pace, everything I do requires me to wait for the network to catch up. It’s not like I have a problem with any other websites, not even other Google services.

3) None of my friends ever post to, check, comment, or update on Google+. This is the major reason I don’t use it. I can add as many communities as I want, but I’d have to desert my friends and I’m not going to do that.

Phil N

Love Google+ It’s an amazing service, tons of people to talk to, information to learn, shared videos. I have no complaints at all.

Richard Steven Hack

I had a Google+ account until I discovered that editing a post was painfully slow in Firefox – but very fast in Chrome. Suspecting that Google did this deliberately to make people switch from Firefox to Chrome, I immediately deleted my account.

I don’t like being scammed.

Of course, it could have just been Mozilla’s usual incompetence at writing Firefox code – but somehow I doubt it.

At this point, I’ve reconsidered having a Google+ account – since I have one anyway due to Gmail – but given that I only use Facebook to log into sites so I can post comments and only use Twitter among all the other “social media” sites, I’m not sure I’ll bother. The only social site I’m interested in is LinkedIn, once I start promoting a computer security practice. I really don’t have any interest in the random blather with other people and exposing my personal details to all and sundry – for the benefit of the site selling my info to corporations – which is what most social sites are about.

Mike

I use Firefox and Google+ all the time. Never had the problem you’re describing. I am 100% convinced that you’re not being scammed. In fact, if anything, I’ve had more trouble with Chrome than with Firefox, which is sort of ironic.

cpr

Facebook has all of your information, too. In fact, if you think anything is safe or private, then go enjoy Facebook, or AOL 11, or whatever Zuckerberg calls that ridiculous social site of his.

Adam Voyton

Really interesting article. Good job. I honestly had written off Google+, but some of the features seem neat. I think it’s a bit creepy to have every photo I uploaded backed up on their servers, but Auto-awesome sounds really fun.

ggggg4what ?

IMHO a “third wheel” which is not a total “game changer” when I’ve F/book and Twitter. Some interesting “better points” but … ubiquity ? I will not reach a fraction of my friends via G+. Those functions can be done somewhere and somehow (if necessary, which is another question). Also, since Google has become this “ugly giant evil scary monster” (somewhat creepy as forewarned in the late 1990’s) and “morphed” from their original “good recipe” within a rather “dirty mudslung competition” with Microsoft etc, towards a commericialised Big Brother information propagator (game changer – for good/bad consequences ?) … I’m weaning myself of G and don’t wish to feed the monster any longer or more than necessary.

Junil M

I had my doubts with google+ or any social networking site. But a few months ago, I though of checking out google+ and I really liked it. I liked its interface which was way more better than facebook.

James

Funny how some people are worried about Google but don’t worry about all their data with Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, MySpace, etc . A bit like when people criticise the Chinese govt for spying/monitoring their citizens data but can’t see parallels in the US. Says more about the psychology of readers than the companies (whose motives are pretty simple/predictable).

CuriousGeorge

I agree on Google, but the China-US simile is hollow. Unless you think that Google is walking through the internet and censoring all this negative feedback from their sites, it’s not the same. There are over 200 riots in China every day. Are you hearing about them? Can you go to jail for people reposting your social media updates? In China you could be locked up for going viral. Anonymous posting? Only for real hackers.
If you’re going to get political, pls be reasonable

Ninad Kochkar

Well…good article.
I use all these features described in the article.
I was going through comments and I see one common thing for most of the ppl who dislike G+. They do not like interface.
I use it on my Andoid phone and yes, I do not prefer it on PC browser. I don’t know what is wrong with it, but I just dont like it on PC browser.

But I use G+ all the time on my phone. I like it’s communities, photo upload feature, auto awesome feature and Hangout.

Yes my friends do not use G+, but that is good part of it. All my friends use facebook and it is full of junk. They update about what they eat, feel , when they sleep. I am not interested in these things.

G+ is full of nerds and you get the ppl you share common interest with. These days, I almost stopped using Facebook and use G+ only. I found it truly social.

bben

It started out good, with the circles that separated your various people into isolated groups. But then evolved into just another FB wannabe clone with all of the stupid FB ‘features’ orientated toward immature and clueless users that I didn’t like on FB to begin with. It’s now buried somewhere along with FB as a place I just don’t bother with.

Phil Bradley

I find it really interesting that people often seem to take an absolute stance on stuff. “I will never use G+” or “I will never use Facebook!” I use Facebook for some stuff, and G+ for other things. Facebook is dire at video chat, and G+ is far superior. Facebook is poor at privacy, G+ is better. I don’t find G+ that good for quick sharing with friends, so I don’t use it for that. How hard is it to pick and chose bits and pieces from each service?

Erez Z

Very nice and balanced – I couldn’t agree more (although I don’t use Facebook myself – but i do use other social networks). G+ is what it is — just another service, not THE service.

Welford

I also agree the UI sucks. This whole “minimalist” approach is bullshit. Every little dot on a page opens a giant menu into another menu into another. You can’t find anything and the only reference to things are if you “spot the dot”.

Horseshit.

Besides people that are not more intune to look for NON-OBVIOUS menu’s/icons etc (ie, my mom!) this just frustrates them to no end.

Designers need to be USERS FIRST, then designers. We don’t see like you do and we certainly don’t work the way you do.

Haydn Evans

I actually love Google Plus, the only reason I use Facebook more is because no one I know likes google Plus, personally I think Google plus is the best social network apart from it lack of users, which isn’t something you can hold against it.

Angela A

The auto-awesome stuff is fantastic. I often take a dozen photos of my kids at once, just trying to get one nice shot. Google turns them into little gifs that are way cute.

Zhepyr

Most of my classmate in Engineering and other technology incline people i know use google+ .And i think that make it kinda different from facebook. and for me it looks for refine,simple in a good way.

Ravi

G+ is really fun, it is a collection of many things and it really help to share and stay connected. If you have a blogger blog, you can feel how can it help us to share it. G+ is awesom…

TheGooch

To me, it doesn’t really matter how good or bad Google+ is as a standalone product. Once they changed their privacy policy on 1 Jan 2012 to grant themselves the right to scan my email, I left. I was a big Google fan in the early 2000’s, and my fanboism peaked with Gmail. Once advertisements and data mining became their speciality, the love affair was over.

My personal reasons aside, everyone I know uses FB and they don’t see a reason to switch. I think that is basic marketing, your product cannot just be good…there has to be an incentive for people to use it. Right now I cannot see one.

Caroline W

I like Google+ very much. I like its interface – very fluid and beautiful – plus notifications I get when a new post/comment is made. (ext in Chrome).

I am not a fan of Facebook; but Google+, I find, has a much better audience of users and are more mature – people actually want to be there and contribute seriously. I like being part of a community of like-minded people and they are some of the best people I’ve ever met online.

The circles are a great way to categorize and customize where to put people you choose to follow. For example, I have a circle for ‘Tech Heads’ and another for ‘The Best News’ – as well as ‘People’ in general. So it’s a good way to organize who, what and why you follow.

Overall, I rate it highly: The ‘Photograph’ feature mentioned here I haven’t even tried. But I am Very glad that finally there is an alternative to Facebook and hope Google+ is here to stay.

Guest

I don’t use social media, period. (Blog comments don’t count. I specifically mean these dumb “networking” sites that 12-year-olds use to bully kids off the playground, celebrities use to tell their sycophant fans about their latest fart, mommie bloggers use to share anecdotes about Junior’s potty training adventures, and lonely cat hoarders use to share pictures of their 900 calicos.) I never used Failbook or G-minus and am not about to start now. All I have ever had in terms of Internet communication is a Yahoo email address dating back to when Yahoo first started, which I deleted after almost 20 years once they announced their new redesign that looks all Windows 8 and ugly and allows for “social integration” features. Hello, I don’t need “integration” with anything! I don’t want to share my emails with Facebook losers I don’t have, G-minus users I don’t have, or a mobile “synch” device that I don’t have. I use email for email and that’s it, a cell phone for calls and that’s it. Google trying to turn Gmail into their own version of Facebook makes me POed too. I’ve all but abandoned Internet usage save for commenting on a few choice websites and using the internal system at university. This whole social integration thing sucks. Why should I join G-minus or use any social media if I already don’t give a crap that Eric is taking a Schmidt?

vivek

i advise u guys to STAY AWAY from google+ because of the following features are by default:
1. every pic that u take with ur phone is automatically saved in google+ account and before u know it, its already there in the internet. if u dont know about privacy settings, then ur in trouble.
2. all the apps that u use are now linked to google+account and everyone can see wat all apps u use. It fully invades ur privacy and unless u keep up with their privacy rules and settings.
3. the whole design is awful and privacy stuff always **ss me off.
kindly stay away from this crappy product. I am just finding out how to delete this google+ account.

Ned

No thanks.

I have come to despise G+ after the company started shoving it down our throats.

First it was threats from the top.

Ignore Google Plus and Google search will ignore you. – Larry Page

When that wasn’t enough, they started stapling a G+ onto any Google service you happened to use such as Gmail or YT.

Disabling the damned thing was a nightmare.

Just let it die.