What Google+ Offers That Facebook Doesn’t
What, then, do you find in Google+ that you don’t have in Facebook? Again, the list is rather short.
We’ll start with friend managementthe ability to organize your friends into more easily manageable groups or lists. While Facebook does let you organize your friends into what it calls Groups, it’s a feature that’s fairly well hidden, difficult to use, and, not surprisingly, little used. As we’ll discuss in a moment, it’s as if Facebook doesn’t want you to sort your friends into like groupings.
Google+ is actually built around group-type segmentation, which Google calls Circles. It’s really the concept of “circles of friends,” applied somewhat literally. You can easily assign a friend to one or more Circles, and then post status updates only to selected Circles. It’s really nothing different than what Facebook does with Groups, but it’s front-and-center in the Google+ experience, quite easy to do, and a big selling point for Google+’s early adopters.
Google+ also ups the ante with its version of video chat, which it calls Hangouts. Facebook just recently launched its own video chat, powered by Skype, but it’s limited to one-on-one chats. Google+’s Hangouts let you do group video chats with up to 10 participants at a time. The techies seem to think this is an important feature.
There’s another interesting chat feature in Google+’s mobile apps. The Huddle feature lets you start and participate in group text chats on your mobile phone. Facebook doesn’t offer anything similar.
In addition, Google+ makes it relatively easy to find and share interesting online content. This Sparks feature leverages Google’s search engine technology and melds it into the sharing functionality of the Google+ network. Search for something then share it with your friends; you don’t get anything like that on Facebook.
Behind the scenes, Google+ appears to have paid more attention to privacy and security concerns, which have long been sore points among Facebook users. Whereas it’s almost impossible to quit Facebook and delete content you’ve stored or created there, Google+’s Data Liberation tool makes it easy to delete your account and all your personal information and content. Really easy.
Finally, Google+ integrates closely with other Google services. When you join Google+, Google adds some Google+-related features to the black toolbar that appears at the top of all Google pages. It also adds new social networking functionality to services such as Picasa Web Albums and YouTube, which are pretty popular sites. I’d expect to see more of this cross-Google functionalityit’s an advantage Google has that Facebook does not.