Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Google+ Guide (Finally!)

So Google+ is here, you've been invited and you are saying, "What the hell do I do now?"  Well I have put this together to hopefully give you an overview of the features, functions, and possibilities of Google+ and why I'm making the switch and you should too.  So on to what you want:

Table of Contents
3. Hangouts, Huddles, and Connecting

Intro to Google+
This isn't your typical social network, so I should explain the differences between this and Facebook and Twitter, the two top social networks at the moment.  

Facebook has become almost an identity.  We associate our lives with Facebook.  "Are you Facebook official?" , "Look me up on Facebook." ; are just some common phrases we find in today's world.  It stated as a way to connect and share photos, keep distant friends up to date on the world around you, and as we see in "The Social Network", a place to ultimately find out more about that person you want to know.  However, due to that little thing called money, Facebook became an advertisers/quick money maker's dream.  With apps, personal ads (from analyzing the information you submit aka invasion of privacy but, OK due to Facebook's Term of Agreements), and constant changing privacy AGAINST you, Facebook has become a bit of a hazard to you as a human being.  Enough of the op-ed, on with the guide. 

Twitter is more of a stripped down, "Hey! Look what I'm doing!" social network.  However, I have seen more of a benefit.  Local businesses, artists, and just people; are able to connect and share their information and skills in a way that can return to them.  Plus, getting up to date info on the hi-jinks of Anonymous and such is quite amusing :)

Google+ is more back to what Facebook started as, a place to share photos and experiences with your friends and family.  However, in Google+, you have way more control over what is visible to the world, and the groups you choose. (Circles, which is explained in detail later.) 

This is your profile.  It shows all the posts you made your pic, and has links to your photos, videos, etc.  The main thing you want to focus on is the "Edit Profile" button in the top right corner.  Once clicked it will take you to the following:

Here, simply clicking most things will allow you to edit them.  Also, notice the icons next to your information, there are different icons.  You can click and set who can see these when an icon is next to it.

Here you can see several Privacy Icons.  A globe means that it is public an anyone can see that information.  The three pronged icon means Extended Circles, or Circles of people that are in your Circles (friends of friends). Finally, the Circle, meaning only your Circles can see that information.  These same icons and rules apply to photos, videos, and any other information you add to your Google+ profile.

2. Privacy, Circles, and You

This is the Circle area.  Where you add, invite, and organize friends.  Circles can best be described as a social filter.  When sharing on Google+, you choose which Circles to share with.  First we will focus on adding a new friend and inviting them.

After clicking "Add a new person", this menu pops up.  You can either type their name to see if they are already on Google+, or type their email to add and invite them.  Once you press enter their email will be shown and it asks for their name and a Circle to add them too.

After submitting, you will notice a bar pop up at the bottom of the browser, this has the Invite button to invite them to Google+.

Removing People:

Just simply click one of your Circles, click who you want to remove, and click "Remove".

3. Hangouts, Huddles, and Connecting

So when you log in, you are at this screen, your Stream.  This is like the News Feed, Twitter Feed, etc.  Everything posted in all your Circles is displayed here.  However, on the left side, we have a menu for filtering which Streams we see.

Here we see the Friends Circle.  Anyone I have added in this Circle, there posts they share with me, or I share with them, are displayed here.

This is the Following Circle, I use it for generic things, like Google news, music, etc.  Kind of like following a celebrity or big info source on Twitter.  More of a news filter than personal sharing.

You may have noticed the Sparks also on the left side menu.

These are also like following something popular on Twitter, however, it is mostly news articles and popular links concerning the subject you add.

This is the main Sparks page.  You can see a generic list Google gives you, or search at the top.  Try searching for something you are interested in.

Once searched, you can browse, then choose to "Add interest".  This will add a link to your Sparks menu on the side.  These can be useful for staying up to date and having something else to then share to your Circles.

You may have also noticed the Chat menu below the Sparks menu.  Pretty self explanatory, a Chat client for your Google+ friends.  In the mobile app, chats are referred to as Huddles, but are also used as group chats.

On the right side of your home page (Stream), you see a button that says "Start a hangout".  This is an up to 10 friend video chat.  After starting a Hangout and installing the plug-in, you come to this screen:

Here you can select Circles and people to invite, check your video/mic, and finally start the Hangout.

This is the main screen, when others are in the Hangout, there videos will be lined up next to yours, with whichever you click and choose to focus on, being the main focus of the screen.  There are also several buttons for us to use.

The first being the Invite button.  Obviously here you can invite more Circles/friends to join the Hangout.

Next in line is the Chat button.  This is for typed out chat, in addition to the already active voice chat.

Finally, YouTube button!  This allows you to have a YouTube stream during the Hangout.  It does change whenever someone picks a new video, so may cause some tension :)  However, you can opt out of watching whatever everyone in the Hangout is viewing, or mute/adjust volume.  I like the "Push to Talk" button, slightly mutes the video for everyone to hear what you have to say :)

Posting and Sharing
On the main page (Stream), you can submit links, videos, pics, or just share whats on your mind.  Pretty standard for any social network, but the filters that come with Circles are what separates Google+ from the rest.

When submitting a post, we see that it defaults for "Public" and "Your circles".  This can easily be changed by clicking the "Add more people" link.

This menu appears, allowing us to edit who sees what we are sharing.

When browsing through the Photos tab, we find similar security and sharing options found in editing our profile and sharing posts.  The main page displays all recent photos from Circles that are visible to you.  By going clicking any of the links in the menu on the left, you can edit who is allowed to see which albums and photos of you.

Final Notes and Quick Tips
That is just a quick overview/run through of the basics of Google+, available to us now.  With extensions and further development, much of this will change.  However, I hope this at least answered some of your questions and can help you to enjoy using Google+ a little more, maybe encourage you to spread it to others!

Shift(Tab)+Enter will submit any post, comment, etc. you are typing.

Looking up the Google+ cheat sheet never hurt anyone :)

On the bottom, right hand side of the main page (Stream), there is a link to mass invite via email address.  There is also a link for a mobile app (currently only Android, iPhone in the works).

Thanks for reading and if you have any comments, further questions, or feel there is something else I need to cover, leave a comment or contact me!

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