Note: Yes, I have some Google+ invites available. Get in touch if you're lacking.
After trying to enter the social market ineffectively with Wave and Buzz, Google is trying something new this year:
On its surface, g+ looks like a cleaner (interface) version of Facebook. It's primarily a news stream of people you follow, but with some key features I'm starting to find useful. Ahmed Zeeshan writes more about
Circles. You can break your Facebook friends into lists and vary permissions on those lists, but it's really difficult. I've seen this used most often by teachers who put their students into one list with very limited permissions, and everybody else in another list. Circles use a drag-and-drop interface to sort people, and as you go to share something, you can share it with everybody or with one or more of your circles. Maybe you're a photographer and a lacrosse player; you don't want to bore all of your g+ contacts with every aspect of your life, so maybe you only share your photography stuff with fellow photographers. Or maybe in your "other life" you're a bartender, and you only want to share the wild and wacky stuff with your patrons who are following you, not your boss at your accounting firm.
Lack of reciprocity. In Facebook, you have to agree to have your stuff shared with someone by accepting a friend request. Like Twitter, if you find me interesting, awesome. I don't need to find you interesting as well in order to let you see my stuff.
Discovery. Like Twitter and unlike Facebook, it's easy to find new people who might be of interest for you to add to circles. Cool.
Sparks. Get a news feed of your favorite topics (think location, sports teams, workouts, recipes, that kind of thing).
Another thing people seem to like is the Huddle feature, which is basically a group live chat (remember AOL chat rooms? yes, like that).
While the g+ mobile app is still awaiting approval in the Apple app store for iPhone/iPad/iPod (though there is good mobile website functionality), it did launch with an Android app, which has a clean, crisp interface. It's missing the ability to read sparks, and the ability to re-share, both of which I think are going to be important.
Due to its late entry into the social market, I'm initially wary of building out much of my g+ use. It's tough enough keeping up with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, while at the same time remembering to actually live life. What would entirely destroy my use of g+ is if people start moving their Twitter streams through their news feeds – it's why I only use LinkedIn for groups, and probably not as often as I should.
The other thing I need is the ability to play word games (seriously – it is by far the thing I use most on FacebooK).
Down the road, I'm likely going to have to pick either Facebook or Google+. G+'s entry after I've spent five years with my Facebook profile means I'm probably going to choose Facebook, unless g+ can reveal to me a brand new way to use the network that I haven't thought about (other than using a huddle to have a virtual meeting with my coworkers).