Google+ has been out for a few days so we thought it was time to offer some early thoughts. First off, it’s not like any of Google’s previous attempts like Buzz, Wave or Orkut. Google+ is more mature, you can tell they really thought about how they were going to approach a social network in a modern context.

To sum up Google+ is difficult. It’s like the best bits of Facebook mixed with bits of Twitter and a few Googlish conventions thrown in. Plus is very contact driven, that is to say that an email address seems to be the central way to connect with people right now. Google makes a big thing of importing your address book and if you used Buzz you can quickly add all your Buzz contacts into Circles.

A Circle is a way of marking a contact for particular updates, so you might have co-workers in one and family in another. Of course you can have a contact in more than one Circle, where this is used is to determine when you post who can see an update. Plus asks you who you want to share each post with. If you’re thinking that sounds like Facebook lists, you’re right, only properly done… people will use lists when it’s fun and when there’s a useful reason to use them to determine who sees an update.

Google has privacy in mind

Google+ feels like it has privacy in mind, which is refreshing for Google in many respects. One interesting new feature is the ability to export your entire history with Google to a downloadable file you can import elsewhere (in the future).

We think where Google+ may win many many fans is with Huddle, a 10-way video conferencing solution that is mind blowing. Especially when you consider Microsoft’s Skype charges £5 for 5 way and Google+ is free!  We’ve taken part in a few hangouts and it’s brilliant clear video and audio (bandwidth permitting) and the way the conversation view focuses on who is speaking makes this a win for charity use.

There’s a lot to see and do with Google+. It seems this time they may have cracked it and created a network to rival Facebook and Twitter, but then we thought Wave was going to revolutionise email so we’ve been wrong before :-) although it did make its way into Google Docs as a very cool real time collaboration feature.