After a few days on Google+, these are my likes and dislikes compared to Facebook

In the comments section of my article about Google+ possibly achieving 20 million users by this weekend, I noticed that many people sent out Google+ invites to one another. Having recently acquired Google+ myself, I'm curious as to what everyone's review of the new social network is, and if you believe that it could rival Facebook at some point. But first, I thought I'd share my first impressions of Google+.

There are some similarities between Google+ and Facebook, such as the overall appearance of the user profile and stream, similar ways of situating photos (notice your profile has that horizontal bar of photos you can add next to your default picture much like Facebook's), etc. But there are also many new features that Google+ offers, as well as a few new twists to features already used on Facebook.

I'll start with posting information. While both Google+ and Facebook have options in the status window that allow you to post photos, videos, or links, I like Google+'s layout better. Both allow you to choose who you're sharing that particular post with, but Google+'s is much easier to navigate and seems pretty cut and dry. What I really like in particular is the ability to jump right to YouTube on Google+'s "Add Video" option. In addition, I think the "Questions" button on Facebook's status box is completely useless, and prefer Google+'s "Add your Location." Another cool feature is the ability to disable comments altogether on a particular post, where Facebook's privacy button for each post just allows you to share it with certain people, or just yourself.

Google+'s Circles is a feature I looked forward to using, just because the drag and drop feature is so convenient and provides a perfectly categorized library of people you know. I like that I can separate what my family sees from what my friends see, and so on. While this is possible on Facebook as well through its Groups option, let's be honest...who really uses that?

The +1 feature (which is similar to Facebook's "Like" system) is nothing to write home about. They're the same to me, but what's cool is that there is a "+1's" tab on your user profile that allows you to store the posts/links you've +1'd on Google+. For instance, if your friend posted a link to a good-looking recipe, and you +1'd it, you can choose to have that recipe saved on your "+1's" tab so you don't lose it or have to search for it again months down the road.

The chat seems pretty standard with one-on-one, video, voice and multi-person chat (Facebook only recently launched the latter). What I find really interesting is the on/off the record option. If you choose to be "off the record," your conversation is not stored in Gmail chat history or your contact's history. I thought that was a neat idea.

Speaking of chat, Google+ also has a multi-person video chat called Hangouts. I used this feature once, and thought I would probably never have any real use for it. But I have a friend moving to Arizona soon, and I thought it might be fun to use that tool as a way of my friends and I "seeing" him all together. So maybe I'll give it more of a chance later on.

Google+'s mobile app for Android seems very plain to me, but when I looked at the mobile interface on an iPhone 4 using Safari (since an official app is not available in the App Store yet) I found that I liked that one better than Android's app. I understand the Android app is still young and will likely change, but for now, the mobile version on the iPhone 4's Safari seems to have more. For instance, there is a "more" tab at the top of the mobile Google+ screen, and when you press it, your picture with your name and email address appear horizontally across the top with tabs titled Search, Apps and Notifications underneath. Under the Search tab, you have the standard Google search options like Web, Images, Places, News, Video, Books, etc. Under the Apps tab, you have all your Google apps laid out such as Google+, Gmail, Photos, YouTube, Docs, Tasks, Reader, Talk, etc. Under the Notifications tab are your Google+ notifications. All in all, it's just situated in a useful way and has more options as far as your Google+ profile being linked with your Gmail account among other apps.

There are a lot of little things I find myself liking about Google+ as well, such as "view Profile As" bar on your profile that allows you to look at your profile as any person in your Circles. It's quick and easy confirmation that your family didn't see that crazy post about that party last weekend.

I saved my favorite Google+ feature for last: Sparks. I sat on Sparks for a good while typing in everything from "sewing" to "guitar lessons," and yes, it provided excellent articles on different types of sewing techniques and videos on how to play Stevie Ray Vaughan songs. I typed in as many hobbies as I could think of just to see what would pop up. I find myself sharing videos and articles more than typing random status'.

So those are my first impressions, likes and dislikes, etc. in regards to Google+. Overall, I like it a lot and find myself using it more than Facebook at this point. I like that Google has a "Send Feedback" button in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen because it shows that Google is taking our suggestions and will likely have a suitable rival for Facebook after this testing phase.

I look forward to that day, but until then, what do you think? What are your first impressions?

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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