Google+ is a year old now, and I congratulate the team on creating a compelling, unique social network. Google has made some great strides in that time, especially when it comes to capitalizing on its unique Hangout feature, expanding on the concept of Circles in a number of smart ways (like making them shareable), and competing with Facebook to make it easier to integrate the network into the web. But there are some key aspects and features that Google has neglected, grossly misunderstood, or simply promised and apparently forgot about:
We are just now getting a tablet app
The iPad became the fastest growing PC almost immediately when it landed in 2010, and it single-handedly eclipsed sales of the world’s largest PC maker (HP) over holiday 2011. Yet, some Android tablets are just now getting a Google+ app, and an iPad version is “on the way.” At this rate, Google is about to give Twitter a run for its money when it comes to sluggishly adopting essential new markets.
Google is still doing terrible in mobile, the most important platform by a mile
After a year and at least two major app redesigns, Google is getting way too much credit for having a good mobile app, and I’m convinced it’s simply because they refreshed it with an admittedly beautiful redesign. But (and I can’t believe I’m going to say this) it feels like lipstick on a pig.
We still can’t create “real” link posts (the kind where the link gets its own headline block and a thumbnail at the bottom of the post, like you get when posting from a desktop browser) on mobile apps or even the custom iPad web app. The iPhone app still can’t start a Hangout, it loses everything you’ve typed in a post or comment after switching to another app or two, and it forgets your place in the timeline and refreshes when switching back. Facebook’s mobile app is only marginally better (at least it resumes my post mid-draft after switching to other apps), but a low bar for experience is still a terrible bar to use for comparison. This experience is crap, period. Plus, Google (and Facebook) continue to have real trouble making money in mobile, while Twitter says it’s doing quite well.
We still can’t migrate accounts
Where is the promised support for moving a Google+ profile from a personal Google Account to a Google Apps account, or vice versa? Google said it was coming in October 2011, when it announced Google+ for Google Apps users, but I can’t find a peep about it since.
Google still doesn’t get the API thing
At Google I/O last week, Google announced a very limited API is coming to Google+, but then, only for select partners, and only for doing things like building a +1 button into an app. It isn’t anything close to a full API for doing things like building third-party clients that can enhance the experience or even just pick up the slack from the fact that Google hates apps.
Let’s also clarify something: the argument—which you typically hear out of Google+ proponents (also known as Facebook Refugees) and even its executives—that Google isn’t opening up Google+ because it doesn’t want our feeds to get crammed with auto-posted content and spammy game messages, is complete and utter bullshit. No, stop. I’m'a go ahead and not let you finish. Bullshit.
Just about any other social network worth mentioning—Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, even WordPress—has an API that supports third-party clients and services (with the slight, but not disqualifying, exception of Facebook, which I hear is weak or lacking in some ways). Between being able to block spammy applications, using a third-party client that offers a different experience or things like filtering options (the very definition of why an API should exist), or *gasp* simply talking to your friend to clue them into the fact they’re pissing everyone off—all those other networks are doing just fine.
Scoble is right, Google+ Events is the worst social feature rollout in a long time, possibly ever
The sheer fact that anyone can spam your calendar simply by inviting your to a Google+ Event boggles the mind. It shows a staggering lack of understanding and foresight on human behavior and simply how boundaries in social media should work.
I’m sure I missed a few lingering problems at the core of Google+, so I’d be happy to expand this list. One year in and it’s clear that Google has a good thing on its hands. But between neglect and what seems like a lack of understanding or care, Google+ has some real problems that I’m not sure Google knows how to fix.