For the overly image-conscientious, Google+ is the perfect tool. Privacy is very straightforward, because each setting comes up as you go to edit your profile. Whereas most of Facebook’s privacy options seem hidden in that upper-right hand screen of yours, Google’s seems to be right in the open. Don’t want to fill it out either? No problem.
There’s also no “Wall,” meaning no one can post how awesome that insane skydiving jump was on that same very day you also happened to call in sick to your boss.
Photos are pretty self-explanatory, but what’s neat is that Google has baked in mobile uploads from the Android app to automatically default as private. That lets you handle the logistics later, and is a smart way to handle what photos you want to be public on your profile. And if you also happen to be one of those FourSquare people, don’t worry, because Google+ can also pull location data if you want it to.
Sparks is the social-networking equivalent of Google blog search. You can also add a topic or search term for easy future access. It’s baked right into the Google+, so you don’t have to leave the site to quickly find information on something.
There’s also Hangout, where you, well, “hang out” with people. It’s basically Google Video chat, but also includes group video calling. Eff it, I want to hang out with my Circle today. Or all of my Circles. There’s also Huddles, for the texting version. And Google+ directly integrates with your current Google contacts, so you can talk or video chat to contacts like you would normally do in Gmail. It’s an ingenious way to communicate and makes Facebook chat look incredibly archaic.
That’s not to say the system is perfect—far from it, in fact. While a few things need more polish, Google will undoubtedly clean them up in due time. For instance you can’t email a whole Circle, which would make sense because you can do other things with whole Circles. And while it’s a great tool, it needs more people on the service. You know, to make it social.
That doesn’t change the fact the user experience, as a whole, is pretty satisfying. And no, I don’t have any invites at the moment.