By now, you've probably at least heard of Google+ and you may be wondering what all the fuss is about? Is it really the new Facebook? The answer is a bit "yes, no, maybe so" While Google+ isn't Facebook, it has definitely built some attractive features that may tempt Facebook users to transfer some of their online social interactions.
The first big thing Google+ has going for it is its integration with other Google applications. Google + connects with gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs, and it uses Google Search to inform its "Sparks" feature. Does your daily dose of updates from your favorite TV show start your morning off right? Instead of fan pages and like buttons, use “Sparks” to track just about anything from Harry Potter to Starbucks. News that posts anywhere on the Internet about your "Spark" will show up in your Stream (Google+'s version of Facebook's News Feed). The buzz is that Facebook is moving in a similar direction (including integration with Microsoft's search engine, Bing), but right now, the convenience of being able to, for instance, share a your term paper on Google Docs in a “Hangout” with some of the people from your class is pretty cool.
Facebook has improved its privacy settings, but overall, it isn't the best when it comes to filtering your conversations easily. Post photos of your kids playing Batman and Robin before bed and every "friend" sees it, unless you've gone through the complicated Facebook "Groups" setup process and remembered to make your post private to one of your Groups. With Google+, you create circles of people, and you selectively share information with certain circles. Every time you connect with someone on Google+, you add them to a circle, so you never have to worry that someone who's not in one of your circles will see your content, unless you post it publicly. As you post comments, photos or links, you choose what circles to share each item with. You can add your mom to a family circle, your boss to a work circle, and your friends to yet another. You can even add people to multiple circles. After all, your cube-mate is a co-worker and a friend, right?
Facebook's "Friend Request" system can create some awkward social situations. Anyone who has ever looked away uncomfortably when asked, "Why haven't you accepted my friend request yet?" knows what I'm talking about. In contrast, Google+ has no "Friend Requests." Anyone can add you to one of their circles, but they will only see your public posts, unless you add them to one of your circles. You can also follow anyone you want, even without that person adding you as a friend. You can see what people share with the public and, unlike Twitter, they won't be limited to 140 characters. Imagine what Ashton Kutcher will do with this.