So next week I’m going on holiday, returning to Hong Kong in what has become an annual pilgrimage for the girlfriend and I. In holidays past I’ve shared notable destinations, photos and random observations via social media, and this time will be no different — except that instead of Facebook or Twitter I’ll be using Google+.
Yup, that Google+… Realm of the Android homescreen screenshot, the social network that nobody asked for, forced upon Gmail, Android and YouTube users only because the brain trust of Page and Brin said so.
If you use any Google product or service then you’re going to run in to Google+ at some point, whether you like it or not. It’s pointless, infuriating and in at least one way absolutely brilliant.
Google+ is very much a silo. There are no third-party apps for the platform. None. And where every other Android app can share content directly to another, to share content on G+ you must first to get a link and then share that.
In my mind this is the single, biggest impediment to a wider acceptance of Google+. For most people I imagine it’s quite the nuisance to find out they’ve a presence on a social network that they didn’t even know about, much less actually want.
The Not-so Bad
Communities on Google+ are akin to groups on Facebook — and both of them are modern reincarnations of Usenet, really.
Some communities on G+, particularly for Android users, are worthy of your time. The Android App Addicts community, for example, has Play Store links to everything discussed on that podcast.
Other Android-centric communities are a mixed bag. The typical community for a root app or custom ROM is likely to be little more than a cesspool of inane questions from users too lazy to search XDA.
Any social network has its own rockstars that you won’t find anywhere else. If you’re an Android fan then you’re in luck —using G+ will give you access to notable Android bloggers, developers, even Google employees on the Android team. Some folks you may want to add — er, circle include:
- Hugo Barra – former Google exec, new hire at Xiaomi
- Chainfire – author of SuperSU
- Matias Duarte – in charge of the Android User Experience at Google
- Koushik Dutta (Koush) – author of ClockworkMod Recovery
- Adam Outler – XDA dev who does crazy unboxings/teardowns on YouTube
For me, the killer feature of G+ is photo and video backup.
When you first fire up the Android Google+ app you’ll be asked if you want to back up your media, via either mobile network and/or WiFi. Dig a little deeper into the settings and you can select automatic backups at full resolution or slightly smaller versions suitable for sharing.
As you go about your day capturing pictures and video you’ll get occasional notifications from Google+ that your media is ready to share. Whether you choose to do so or not isn’t nearly as important as the fact that the stuff is backed up for you, ready to be retrieved from any computer or mobile device logged in to your account. And storage clearly isn’t an issue; Google gives you 25GB of space with an option to pay for more.
And that’s not even the best part…
Because your media is stored on Google’s servers it’s easily searchable — and without any extra input from you it can easily be retrieved according to category, date, location and more. This is the power of Google search applied to your personal media, and it’s pretty amazing.
While I won’t be giving up on Twitter just yet I’m no longer uploading photos to Flickr. Sharing photos to Google+ is way easier because the photos are already there! Thus, G+ is the place to be if you want to follow me to Hong Kong and beyond. Circle me there if you like. 🙂