Screen shot 2011-06-30 at 12.52.36 AM

Guest Commentary: Since last night I’ve been trying the new Google+ social networking service on both an Android phone and an iPhone. Two very different experiences! But the service looks good on both and I think Google+ overall (it’s a desktop web experience, too) may rollout better than some expect.

First I want to thank Josh Maher for sending me an invite and also Ariana O’Dell for offering one while I didn’t yet know I had one from Josh.

By way of background, I also want to say that I really enjoy reading Dave Winer’s blog. He’s not a prose stylist but he’s an efficient communicator of interesting thoughts. He sees big context in small things, makes details tell, yet his style is spare and his syntax simple.

So he’s been posting recently about Google+, and in one piece dismissively said this:

“Their [Google’s] ‘social’ offerings have been rebuffed repeatedly, and they will continue to be rejected by users, no matter how promising they are, no matter what they are, different from Facebook, a Facebook clone, doesn’t matter.”

He gives two reasons for this permanent and inevitable state of affairs, the second of which is, “Everyone’s watching.” This means that:

” . . . on Day One your service pretty much has to be feature-complete, and ready for hundreds of millions of users. Forget about corner-turns. Forget about dipping your big toe in to get a sense of the temperature. These are the advantages of the upstart, when they’re starting.”

Well, he may be right, but damn if the darn thing (Google+) doesn’t do a lot of shit right out of the gate.

I was so excited at getting Josh’s mail that I started playing with Google+ with my iPhone, rather than wait to get back to where I had left my Android phone. Right away it started throwing choices at me, like telling me where I happened to be and asking if it should locate the post I was about to write. Then it threw out dozens of names as suggested connections, and let me select from the list even as it kept refreshing it with new finds.

Google+ appears to be promising that you can gradate access/permissions/exposure by placing your peeps in different “circles.” I hesitated at how to categorize some folks, but soon enough I saw I could create and name my own custom “circles” (take that, Facebook).

When I got back to my Android phone, Google+ really knew me and added additional nuance to my control. Once a couple apps from the Android Market were installed, Google+ was asking about automatically uploading photos as I take them and inviting me to initiate a “huddle” (those features are not on the iPhone).

I imagine I’d still play the heck out of Google+ even as a web app on the iPhone. The experience on the iPhone is like other Google services on iOS: work fine; feel like the mobile setting of a web page rather than a native app (see the lower picture); missing the touches that supercharge the experience, yet gets the job done.

But the delight of Google+ will come first on the Android apps.

Attorney William Carleton is a member of McNaul Ebel Nawrot & Helgren PLLC, a Seattle law firm. He works with startups and emerging tech companies, their founders and investors. He posts regularly about tech-related legal issues on his blog, where a version of this post first appeared.

Follow him on Twitter @wac6.

Also by William Carleton

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  • Ryan Raphael

    Where can I get an invite?

    • William Carleton

      If I had one to give, I’d send it to you, but since being “invited” myself it appears the process of doling out new invites has been suspended. I read somewhere this morning that Google had to do this to mitigate the load temporarily. In any case, I haven’t seen a way to send invites yet myself.

  • Guest

    I rather like the Google+ application, but the fact that I need an application to visit one social network seems pretty counterproductive to me. Why not integrate the Google+ functionality into all applicable apps, making it go wherever I do?

  • Michael Pertler

    How did you get the iPhone app….I can’t find it anywhere?

    • Guest

      Apple hasn’t allowed it yet. You’ll need to open Safari to until Apple allows.

  • Potatoe

    “but soon enough I saw I could create and name my own custom “circles” (take that, Facebook).”

    You know Facebook lets you put users into as many custom groups as you want, and filter every single thing you post, right?

  • jr

    Google, through its Google Ventures arm, will win this race.  That doesn’t mean iphone won’t also have a niche in the long run as wel, but Apple doesn’t have a corporate VC arm that gets first looks (and cheaper prices) for promising new companies.  Just look at where Google Ventures has been quietly investing recently and it speaks volumes for where Google is focused: on mobile browsers, mobile apps, and mobile payments:

  • Jon staenberg

    i am sure there will be lots of detractors but for me this is game changing.  You have to understand that i am already on google sites all day and this is incorporated into that.  Facebook cant do that in the same way.

    • William Carleton

      Jon, no kidding. I got a feel for what you’re saying the morning after playing with it on the phones, on the desktop where I reside in tabs on Chrome. And it’s going to make me use Picassa now, too, I can see that coming.

  • Kevin Neale

    This article is premature, there isn’t a native iPhone app available. Comparing a webapp and a native app, is just plain irresponsible for a ‘tech blogger’

  • Kevin Neale

    How can you compare functionality when there’s no native iPhone app? Your comparing a webapp and a native app, which is just irresponsible for anyone who actually knows tech. This article is premature.

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