Category Archives: Technology

Google+ vs Facebook vs Twitter – 10 Things

People have been asking what’s the difference and why should they switch to Google+ if they’re already on one or both of Facebook and Twitter. I have also read several other blog posts noting the differences and comparisons, and some of them tend to annoy me when they’re wrong (brand new pet peeve). So if you want a reason to switch, I will try to convince you.

This has turned into a really long blog post. Sorry. I try not to do that too often.

1. Organize your friends. We organize our friends in real life, so we should be able to do that online. I have genealogy friends, writer friends, random friends, relative friends, etc. All services allow you to organize.

  • On Twitter, it’s with lists, and if you use an app, you can usually access your lists or make other groups of them. (I use TweetDeck.)
  • On Facebook, it’s friend lists. No, it is not Groups, it is friend lists. Stop getting that wrong bloggers.
  • On Google+, it’s Circles.

I have seen several blogs comparing G+ Circles to Facebook Groups, which is wrong. Circles are exactly like FB friend lists. Except that G+ has put Circles front and center where FB has shunted the friend lists so far into the background that a lot of people have completely forgotten about them. People are raving about Circles on G+ because they can send their status updates to just those who would be interested. I can do that on FB with my friend lists, but apparently I’m one of the very few who have remembered they even exist and I have kept up my lists.

Also, why would I want to limit most of my postings? Some, sure, but not most. For example, I like sharing my blog posts with everyone. I have family and friends who aren’t genealogists who read them. Another example, I posted a photo on G+ that was relevant to my writer friends, but I posted it to all my Circles. My first two comments were from a friend/genealogist (he’s in two lists) and a relative. If I’d limited who saw that to just the writers, I’d have no comments and my friend and cousin wouldn’t know more about me.

However, G+ definitely excels in this aspect. Already in G+ as in FB, I have friends that I don’t really know. In G+, they’re all genealogists at the moment, but in FB, I’ve added some people for different games. Some of those people change their names. When I see them randomly show up in my news feed, I have no idea who they are. In G+, I can hover over their name and see which Circle they are in. In FB, it’s a convoluted mess to find what friend list they are in. (Not really, but it’s far more effort.)

2. Chat. All three have this feature.

  • Twitter has direct messages (DMs) and @mentions. Whole conversations can happen publicly.
  • Facebook has their chat, which they’ve integrated into messages (ugh). More recently, they’ve introduced Skype video chat integration.
  • Google+ wins this one. First, there is Gtalk, the old chat function which exists in Gmail and shows up the same in G+. (Actually, that still just shows my old friend list for chat plus a couple others, and it’s different in Gmail and G+ at the same time. I guess it still needs work.) Second is the Huddle. You might not have seen this as it’s only in the mobile app. It’s a group chat. Other instant messengers have it too, but I don’t think Gtalk has had it before. But the real winner is the Hangout, group video chat. This is totally cool. I don’t usually use video on Skype, but when I saw an almost total stranger Twitter friend in a Hangout today, I joined him and we tried it out, soon to be joined by two more of his friends. (Apparently, all my friends were taking the afternoon offline and nobody joined.)

3. Messages.

  • Twitter is all messages via DMs and @mentions.
  • Facebook integrated chat and messages and makes them into one long chain of chats and messages. Ugh.
  • Google+ has a way to send a message via email right from someone’s profile page. Another option is to post a status and then only share it with one person (just like you can share with just one Circle). This is available on FB also, if you post a status and click the lock icon and customize, but again, G+ makes it simpler, more obvious, and with slightly fewer steps.

4. Walls. On Facebook, any friend can post stuff or spam to your wall and your other friends can see it before you can delete it.

  • Twitter has no such thing. The closest you can get is to search for someone by their @name and see what others are saying to them.
  • Facebook walls can also be filled with game statuses. Even if you tell the game not to post, it will constantly ask if it can and eventually you’ll click ahead and hit yes when you didn’t mean to, then you have to go in and delete it.
  • Google+ has no walls. If someone wants to post something so your friends see it, they have to leave a comment to one of your posts. Deleting someone else’s comment can be done via the little arrow at the top right. You can also disable comments on anything you post from that same menu.

5. More about Circles. Google+ is very much like Facebook, but it’s also a cross between FB and Twitter. On Facebook, both people have to confirm their friendship. On Twitter, you can follow anyone (who doesn’t block you) and anyone can follow you (that you don’t block, or if you don’t privatize your account). In G+, you can put people in your Circles and not be in theirs and vice versa, although I imagine most will reciprocate, as they have so far. But that’s also true in Twitter. What’s different in G+ is that if someone has you in their Circle, you can see what they’re sending out to you by going to your Incoming stream. You don’t get that in Twitter.

6. Edits. Twitter and Facebook are both failures at this. How many of us have sent a tweet or posted a status only to immediately see a typo in it? Yeah, just try to deny you’ve done that. Google+ has an edit function. Hopefully people won’t use it to completely change their comments which could make the rest of a conversation look odd, but every time you send out a typo, you can fix it.

7. Ads.

  • Twitter has some sponsored ads. I’ve never seen them, but apparently they’re going to be coming through like regular tweets soon, especially with them buying TweetDeck.
  • We all know about Facebook ads. A relatively recent update makes the ads refresh while you’re playing games so you see more of them. And they’re putting them on more pages.
  • Google+ has no ads. Are they going to add them? I have no idea. But I think Google makes a lot of money with ads on their search engine and on everyone else’s web sites. Maybe they’ll keep G+ clean, but probably not, since they’ve just added more ads into Gmail.

I guess nobody wins that one. But if you want the service for free, sometimes this is how you have to pay for it: by seeing annoying ads.

8. Games.

  • Twitter used to have some. I haven’t seen them in a long time.
  • Facebook games are constantly clouding up my news feed. I have so many blocked, it’s pretty stupid. The few that I play are not blocked, but they get annoying too.
  • It looks like there is room in the Google+ code to add games. We’ll have to wait and see.

9. Mobile Devices.

  • Twitter is available in a multitude of apps. On PC, I use TweetDeck. In Android, I’m leaning towards Tweetcaster now.
  • Facebook has many apps also.. Many apps will integrate both FB and Twitter, plus LinkedIn, MySpace, and possibly others.
  • It’s Google, so it’s already got an app in Android. This includes the Huddle, which is not on the web site. I understand the iOS app is still awaiting approval. The API isn’t available yet, so the other apps can’t integrate it yet. Maybe G+ will offer the integration and cross-posting themselves? There’s also a Nearby stream option. Some people were having issues with it sharing their location, but my gTablet doesn’t have a GPS and it wouldn’t let me define my location, so I can’t report anything about that.

10. Trust Issues.

  • While Twitpic changed their terms of service claiming ownership of your pictures, Twitter now has it’s own picture service that people prefer the terms to. I don’t know much about either as I’ve never used them.
  • Facebook has had issues with privacy and changing the TOS many times.
  • People seem to trust Google with their information. (Most do; I had one friend who was wary of sharing her birth date at sign-up.) After all, we’re already letting them handle our email, documents, blogs, calendar, news reader, videos (YouTube), searches, etc. Google already knows everything about us anyway.

I read one paranoid blog post about how Google wanted even more information from us so they could serve up ads, thus G+. That same blog had multiple Google ads in addition to giving information to Facebook, Twitter, DoubleClick and a few other sites I’ve never heard of. So he’s paranoid about giving G+ his info but he’s happy to tell Google about all his blog visitors? Can we say sensational journalism?


It looks to me like Google+ has the upper hand, especially once they get out of field testing and let everyone sign up. They have turned on “proper” invites, so we don’t have to sneak out those messages, and they seem to allow sign-ups a little more often as time keeps passing. And once they release the API so TweetDeck, Hootsuite, and all the others can integrate the service, I think more people will cross-post to it. Sometimes I see people posting on Facebook and Twitter about how there’s not much is on G+, and then I suggest that they post the comment in G+ also. They usually do.

While the other services have a lot more members already, and people are used to using them, people are flocking to Google+. I just invited someone who specifically stayed away from Facebook, but she signed up for G+. After all, she was already using Gmail. Another person tweeted yesterday that he’d be using G+ more often and Twitter less; he’s already converted, and I’ve seen mention of others reacting the same. Even my Mom signed up for G+ after I sent her an invite. (She probably has no idea what it is; I’ll have to explain it to her.)

So, are you using Google+ yet? Come join me!

Google+ – My First Thoughts

I woke yesterday to a pleasant surprise, an invite to Google+. It came from someone in the same group that helped me get into Google Wave. I jumped on the bandwagon again!

According to other Twitterers, there is no limit to invites like with Wave, so anyone I added to a circle should get an invite. I went ahead and added some people who were suggested because I had emailed them from gmail at some time. The first person who asked me for one didn’t get an invite, so I told her to wait, that maybe they were sent out in batches when Google was ready. We’ll see.

Google+ looks much like Facebook in how it works. There are friends and there is the Stream — that’s like Facebook’s News Feed. So far, the main differences (besides that hardly anyone is on G+ yet) is the Circles and the Hangout. Circles are exactly like friend lists in Facebook, but instead of shunting them to the background, G+ puts them front and center, which I like. No more seeing someone in my news feed and wondering who they are because I added them for a game on Facebook and they’ve changed their name. Hopefully G+ will stay away from the game connections, but it’s hysterically easier to find what Circle someone is in — just hover over their name in the stream. There’s also a list of who’s in my Circles at the top right and I can hover there too.

The other big difference is the Hangout. On Twitter, Paul B. Allen mentioned that Hangout would be the killer app of G+. Once I investigated and traded a few tweets, I saw what he was saying. Hangout is video chat. I thought Skype could do that, but apparently it’s not free for group chats, which I didn’t know. I don’t usually use the video in Skype, but I can turn off video in Hangout too.

So, I’ve added some people to my Circles and hopefully some will sign up so I can see what this can do, and if it’s different than Facebook. Part of the trouble with Wave was that we didn’t have invites and the whole purpose was to collaborate. Google seems to have learned it’s lesson. G+ is social networking, and it takes being able to invite people you know to network with them.

Another problem I pretty much expected was getting Google+ on my Android. Google Market says a lot of things are “incompatible” just because it doesn’t like the gTablet. I was able to find the APK (installation) file and side load it. It seems to work. It doesn’t come with Hangout, but it has Huddle, which is not on the web site. Huddle is group chat. I need some people on G+ to actually try it. So much for being incompatible; when will Google learn to stop trying to lock out compatible devices to their market?

There is no hover in Android, so finding someone’s Circle requires clicking (well, touching), but then it’s right there for me to see. Also, looking at the list of who’s in my Circles shows their email address, where the web site requires a hover.

Another bonus of G+ over Wave is Gmail integration. I posted something to my Stream and got responses — they showed up in a Gmail thread. That could get redundant, but it can be shut off in settings.

Update: I also like how Photos are easy to get to. Every time I try to post pictures on Facebook, or especially to add to an existing album, it’s buried deeper and deeper. G+ appears easier to find them. But the way it uploads multiple photos at a time, if the first photo isn’t the quickest, then they end up out of order and I can’t see how to change the order. Although, with the G+ upload, I can add comments once the photo is uploaded and while the rest are still going.

What I don’t see in G+ is a list of who’s online. The chat in G+ appears to just do regular Gtalk chat and it showed my usual list of suspects, but the Gmail tab shows some online where the G+ tab doesn’t. (Update: They are both showing the same list of people online now; must’ve caught a glitch earlier.) But for the Hangout or the Huddle, it would help to know who’s online to chat with them.

Do we really need another social network? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Google Buzz (it’s still around), MySpace, Friendster, Hi5, Bebo, Ning (including GenealogyWise), etc. I never signed up to some of those, or barely used them if I signed up. Will video chat really make G+ stand out? Or the group chat? Or is there something else in there that people will prefer over the others?

And whatever happened to Diaspora? Didn’t a lot of people donate money so a few college students could program that last summer?