Tag Archives: Google Plus

Make Google+ Look Like Pinterest

Social photo-sharing and bookmarking website Pinterest has become quite a rage. Just last month, it overtook Google Plus to become the third most popular social network (behind Facebook and Twitter). Much of the success of Pinterest can be attributed to it’s simple but intuitive user interface (UI). Now, by using a simple userscript, you can skin your Google Plus stream to look like Pinterest.

Pinterest UI for Google+ is currently only available as a Greasemonkey script for Firefox; however, Chrome support is on its way. The script reformats Google+ into a multi-column grid layout ala Pinterest. It is designed for screen resolutions larger than 1024×768. On smaller screens, the script will automatically disable itself. The layout is completely fluid and adjusts to the resolution and browser window size. The new Google+ layout received a lot of flak for wasting enormous amounts of screen real-estate. This script solves that issue by making use of the entire screen width. It ensures that there is always at least three columns. When your screen is not wide enough, the posts are “compressed” into a smaller size to fit the screen width. Here’s how my stream looks with the Pinterest UI installed.

Google-Plus-Pinterest

One of Google Plus’ strong points it is media integration. Large thumbnails, tight coupling with YouTube, and support for GIF animations lends it an edge over Facebook. As a result, pictures and videos often constitute a sizable portion of the Google+ activity stream. Pinterest interface for Google+ is ideally suited for circles in which a lot of media is being shared. It’s a bit messy for sure, but it also has its own advantages.

[ Download Pinterest UI for Google+ Greasemonkey Script ]

Google Plus Gets a Major Redesign

This morning, Google announced in a blog post that its social networking site Google+ has now reached a new mark with 170 million registered members and that they are also rolling out a new design over the next few days. The new Google Plus design looks simple enough and quite user friendly. The redesign of Google+ might have triggered due to the fact that users on Google+ have spent very less time in the past despite the social network having a good user base.

“We think you’ll find it easier to use and nicer to look at, but most importantly, it accelerates our efforts to create a simpler, more beautiful Google,” says Vic Gundotra, in a post on Google+.

According to Google, the new design is more functional and flexible. One of the biggest changes to the website is the completely revamped navigation bar, which Google refers to as “dynamic ribbon.” The navigation bar is placed on the left side of the site, and contains the application buttons, including profile page link and photos. On the right, there is the Google chat box with a list of online users, and a “Start a hangout” button on top of the chat box.

Google Plus Redesign

With the navigation ribbon –

  • You can drag apps up or down to create the order you want
  • You can hover over certain apps to reveal a set of quick actions
  • You can show or hide apps by moving them in and out of “More”

The redesign includes larger photos within a Google Plus user’s content stream, quite similar to the Facebook’s Timeline feature.  It also includes a much larger landscape photo at the top of the user’s profile page, which is called as the “cover photo”, and resembles to the cover photo feature of Facebook.

The following video uploaded by Google shows how you can customize the profile page of your Google Plus account –

There’s also a new section for Hangouts (video chats), which you can use to discover new Hangouts to join. It features popular or public Hangouts that are worth checking out, and also features an automatically updated list consisting of Hangout invitations that you can accept.

The new Google Plus design will be available to all users over the next few days. Overall, the new design looks great and I instantly fell in love with it. However, it looks like a layout copied from Facebook, but that shouldn’t be a problem. It was expected that Google Plus had around 195 million profile including 25 million inactive profiles. However, the actual numbers have now been released, and with 170 million users, Google now expects that its users would stick around to Google Plus for longer time and explore the several new features.

Check out the demonstration videos below and let us know what you think.

Google Plus Has Nearly 195 Million Profiles Including 25 Million Blank Profiles

When Google launched its social networking site Google Plus, it made every profile visible to search engines by default. With this, every profile on Google Plus gets indexed by search engines and the profile links will be displayed in the search results accordingly.

Like every other website, Google too maintains a sitemap file for Google Plus that basically contains all the records and links to every Google Plus profile. A sitemap is a file that consists a list of pages of a website listed accordingly, which will enable crawlers or users to know the hierarchy of a site.

Amit from Labnol discovered that the main sitemap of Google Plus has over 39,000 sub-sitemap files with each of the sub-sitemap file consisting of 5,000 Google Plus profiles each. Therefore, calculating the total number of profile links in the sitemap file – 39,000 * 5,000 which is equivalent to 195 million profile links.

This clearly shows that Google Plus has nearly 195 million profiles as of March 16th, 2012 (the last sitemap update). However, yet another interesting discovery was the number of blank profiles out of the 195 million profiles.

When a new profile is created, the “About” section of the profile will be left blank with the message – “[Name] has not filled in his profile yet.” Performing a quick site search with the query – “site:plus.google.com “has not filled * profile yet” inurl:about ” reveals that Google Plus has nearly 25 million blank profile pages.

Google Plus Blank Profiles

Therefore, the total number of active users on Google Plus (or at least those who have their profile information filled) is 170 million users.

Facebook currently boasts that it has over 850 million users, while Twitter records shows that it has 140 million “active” users. Earlier in January, Google’s Larry Page posted a public note (citing a quote from the Google Earnings report) on his Plus profile revealing that Google Plus has recorded over 90 million users globally.

Within over a span of nearly 2 months from the disclosure of official profile count, it looks like the newly launched social networking site has increased progressively with the current record of 170 million active users (as calculated above). It is predicted that Google Plus will have nearly 400 million users by the end of 2012.

Oh well, if in case you want to hide your Google Plus profile from search engines, then here’s what you need to do. Go to your profile page and click on “About”. Click “Edit Profile” and scroll down to the end where you’ll see “Profile discovery: Profile visible in search”. Click on it and uncheck the “Help others find my profile in search results” option and save the setting. Done! Your page will be taken off the search index and will no longer appear in search results until you come back and enable it again.

Google+ Finally Available for Teens, with Strict Privacy Controls and Guidelines

Google+ has restricted its usage to those above 18 years of age, since its launch last year. However, in a new development, Google has announced that going further, it will allow teenagers to create a profile on their social network. Besides opening up to teenagers, Google+ also introduced a new set of privacy policies and safety information to ensure an enjoyable Google+ experience for them.

Teenagers on Google+ can only be contacted by people in their immediate circles. They will also be warned every time they post a public post, and these are just some safety features for teenagers on Google+. While announcing Google+ for teenagers, Bradley Horowitz says,

Teens and young adults are the most active Internet users on the planet [1]. And surprise, surprise: they’re human beings who enjoy spending time with friends and family. Put these two things together and it’s clear that teens will increasingly connect online. Unfortunately, online sharing is still second-rate for this age group.

With Google+, we want to help teens build meaningful connections online. We also want to provide features that foster safety alongside self-expression. Today we’re doing both, for everyone who’s old enough for a Google Account (13+ in most countries [2]).

Teenager profiles on Google+ will enjoy special safety features when it comes to content sharing, and hangouts. This makes Google+ ideal for young adults, who face numerous problems like bullying and stalking online. Do not forget to read the Google+ teen safety guide and the updated pages at Google+ Safety Center.

Facebook, Twitter Come Out Against Google’s "Search Plus Your World"

Google has been ramping up its operations with , the social networking they created to rival . However, of late Google has been trying to introduce a lot of changes to their search results by integrating it with Google+.

Most recently, Google started personalizing Google search results based on recommendations from your Google+ circles. The new introduction is called "Search Plus Your World" and allows users to get answers from search results as well as people who you are connected to on Google+.

This introduction did not sit down with rival social networking sites like Facebook and who think that it is an unfair advantage for Google to push their own social networking over others. During a recent interview by John Battelle, Facebook’s director Blake Ross said that they had come up with a hack to take back Google to it’s old roots of "Don’t be evil". The hack was created by engineers at Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

How much better would social search be if Google surfaced results from all across the web? The results speak for themselves. We created a tool that uses Google’s own relevance measure—the ranking of their organic search results—to determine what social content should appear in the areas where Google+ results are currently hardcoded.

All of the information in this demo comes from Google itself, and all of the ranking decisions are made by Google’s own algorithms. No other services or APIs are accessed.

The tiny hack or bookmarklet which can be found on the website Focus on the user allows users to switch back to a "more relevant Google" without all the Google+ integrations. It searches all the social web to find relevant results for the users rather than the recent changes in Google search which just focused on getting information from Google+.

Google Search Results Regular

The bookmarklet in itself does not change Google’s search results and you will have to manually click on the bookmarklet to see the results generated by them. The screenshot above shows the normal search results which focus heavily on Google+. The one below shows the changes made by the "don’t be evil" bookmarklet where it focuses on other sites like Twitter and Facebook as well.

Don't be Evil Search Fix

Facebook and Twitter might be driving a point to Google here asking them to stop being selfish and pushing their own social network when other networks are updated more frequently. The argument from "Focus On The User" is that, Google pushes their own network which hasn’t been updated for past two months, whereas hiding Twitter and Facebook which have been updated more frequently for users.

So is this Google monopoly? Well, it could be and it could not be. Every social networking dictates their own policies and it is difficult to say what is right or what it wrong. It will be interesting to see whether Google makes any changes to their search results or whether they will stay adamant and continue to ignore other social networking sites. The battle has just begun, we’ll be here to tell you more as it happens.

Google Plus Hangouts Adds Screen Sharing, Upgrades To An Ideal Web Conferencing Destination

Hangouts in Google Plus is a pretty exciting technology which adds a unique color to the social network. For example, users can discuss over a PowerPoint presentation from their Google Docs account and every member participating in the hangout gets to see it in real time. Then you can also pull in a YouTube video and every member can watch the video and exchange text messages from the same page.The user interface of Google Plus Hangout is far better than any web based group video chat app I have ever seen. I have used Facebook’s video calling feature but Google Plus hangouts still remains a close favorite.

The good news is that Google will be rolling out screen sharing support in Google Plus hangouts within a day or two. This is confirmed after Christopher Johnson, a UX designer who works at Google, announced the following on his Google Plus profile:

When we launched Hangouts with extras last September, we wanted to test new features and get feedback from users. We’ve learned a lot over the past few months, and today we’re rolling out a new Hangouts look and feel that incorporates some of the “extras,” and better reflects Google’s overall design. Highlights include:

– Screen sharing: share what’s on your computer screen with everyone in the hangout. This is the first of many extras we’re graduating to Hangouts.
– Bigger video: we’ve put more emphasis on the live video itself by optimizing white space and other screen elements.

Here is how the screen sharing UI of Google Plus hangouts looks like:

google-plus-hangouts-screen-sharing

This takes screen sharing and online collaboration to a whole new level, given the fact that users can also join a Google Plus hangout from their mobile device (iOS, for example). From now on, conducting online meetings would be much more simpler, as Google Plus hangouts have a “social” nature that broadcasts itself. Google Plus hangout is not a Skype alternative yet, you can’t share files or send entire folders to remote participants and neither you can call a phone number from your desktop. But its free and gets the job done for many, doesn’t it?

The best part: you can provide remote assistance to your rookie friends who have never heard of Skype, Teamviewer, Join.me or a remote desktop application. Please note that Google Plus hangouts will only allow you to see the shared screen, not command full control over it (like Teamviewer does).

If your organization needs a decent free solution for online collaboration, tech support or remote assistance, you might want to give Google Plus Hangouts a spin. It is indeed getting better after each update.

Google Search Gets Even More Personal But “Our World” Is Not Just Google Plus

That’s right, Google search results will now be accompanied by results that are more “personal” to you. This is one of the biggest changes Google has incorporated in the past couple of years and it is expected that more changes are a “work in progress”.

Search Plus your world takes personalized search results to a new level; whereby a user can get answers from not only webpages, but people with whom they are connected on Google plus, Picasa photo albums, Google Plus brand pages and more social stuff that Google offers. No Facebook, No Twitter, No Flickr – Only Google. That says something.

Here is an example where people and pages from Google Plus are highlighted on the far right of a Google search result page:

Wow.

Google’s main product is acting as a “catalyst” and pushing Google Plus as far as it can. Britney spears has a verified Twitter account, a Flickr photostream and a Facebook fan page but none of them are shown. Blind eye!

“Search Plus Your World” Is Not Evil But It’s Not “Complete” Either

Some bloggers are saying that this move is not evil.  Yeah, not “so” evil but it is definitely headed towards being one. Here is why:

A search engine is like a court room where every website is treated equal in the eyes of the “law” (in this case, it is the algorithms and Google’s way of determining the relevant answer to the user’s query). But with this social mix, it appears that Google’s own properties are thrown on the face of the user.

Consider a typical Google Plus user who perform searches while he is signed into his Google account. For a “people search” query, Google Plus profiles and brand pages will be ranked higher than Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles (almost always) . I update my Twitter profile almost every day and it has been months since I even logged into my Google Plus account. But, when I perform a keyword search for my name, I see my Google Plus profile on the way top.

Why this favor? I agree that I am using “your” search engine but you are assuming that my Google Plus profile is important than my Twitter or LinkedIn profile (and hence showing it on top). Not fair mate, not fair at all!

Social data is not just about a single social networking site that “connects people”. It is “the whole thing” and unless you have the system or ability to gauge, measure and evaluate “the whole thing”, it is too early to call this change “Your World”.

“Facebook, Twitter and other services, basically, their terms of service don’t allow us to crawl them deeply and store things. Google+ is the only social network that provides such a persistent service.” Google Fellow Amit Singhal told Search Engine Land.

It’s like –“Since they are not giving us your data, we will create our own Facebook and Twitter and force you to use it sooner or later. We will plaster Google Plus in every nook and cranny , be it Google Maps, YouTube, Google Reader or Gmail, we wont stop anytime soon. We will introduce new markups that influences search results, and we will slowly use search to propel our social network, which has failed over and over and over again.”

And it sucks. Not for Google, Facebook or Twitter but for us. For the entire web.

Google Search Gets its Most Significant Update Ever, Becomes More Personal

When Google launched Plus, it made it pretty clear that Plus itself was just one facet of Google’s social plans. Now, it is ready to unveil the other major component. Google Plus will soon become an integral part of Google Search – the core product on which Google built its empire.

Amit Singhal, the person who has shaped Google Search for more than a decade, wrote, “We’re transforming Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships”. Google has been experimenting with Social Search for over two years. However, empowered by its own social network, Google is now going to go where it couldn’t or wouldn’t go earlier. It is dubbing the new experience as “Search, plus Your World”. It centers around three crucial features.

Personal Results: Just as the name suggests, Google will tap into your Google Plus circles to fetch content created and shared by your friends. Looking for a place to party on a Friday night? Google can pull up places your friends have visited along with their comments. The objective is to add more context to information so that the search results do a better job at answering your queries.

Google-Personalized-Search-Results

Profiles Search: Google is adding profile autocomplete that will scan your circles to suggest friends, in addition to celebrities and other public personalities. “So when I search for [ben smith], I now find my dear friend Ben every time, instead of the hundreds of other Ben Smiths out there”, explained Singhal. The results themselves will also have tight integration with Google Plus. The results will be hyperlinked to Google Plus profiles, and you will be able to add people to your circles directly from the search results page.

People and Pages: The new Google search results page will have a little sidebar called “People and Pages on Google+” that will highlight personalities and communities related to your search term. For example, if you search for music you will see profiles of popular singers and musicians like Britney Spears and Alicia Keys.

Google-People-and-Pages-on-Plus

“Search, plus Your World” is possibly the most radical update to Google Search ever. Make no mistake about it, as it begins rolling out to the millions of Google users across the world, ramifications are going to be felt. Most people resist change, and even the smallest of them often triggers vociferous protests. Google’s new personalized search dramatically alters search results, and often pushes Google Plus in your face. While there are plenty of cases where a personalized result will be more relevant, there are plenty of occasions where they will in fact be detrimental. Personalized search often creates a myopic world where new and useful information is buried beneath the familiar and old. So it’s no wonder that some people are going to hate “Search, plus World”. In fact, lots of people are going to hate the new Google Search. Fortunately, Google also realizes this. For the first time ever, it will be really easy to opt out of personalized and social search. With the click of a button you will be able to toggle between global results and your personal results, on a query to query basis. You will be able to see and judge the pros and cons of personalized search for yourself.

Google+ May Have 400 Million Users by End of 2012

According to a public post by Paul Allen, who claims himself as the unofficial Google+ statistician”, the newly launched social networking site, Google+, in competition with Facebook, will have nearly 400 million users by the end of 2012.

Well, that means that Google Plus will have a user base half the size of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook (taking the current 800 million users in consideration). This prediction is done with the help of the current rate of new signups on Google+. Currently, Google Plus is having over 62 million users, adding over 625,000 new users every day.

Here are the statistics provided by Allen –

  • July 13 – 10 million
  • August 1 – 20.5 million
  • September 1 – 24.7 million
  • October 1 – 38 million (Larry Page announced “more than 40m users” on Oct 13th)
  • November 1 – 43 million
  • December 1 – 50 million
  • December 27 – 62 million
  • January 1 – 65.8 million (forecast)
  • February 1 – 85.2 million (forecast)

Paul Allen states that –

Google+ is adding new users at a very rapid pace. It may be the holidays, the TV commercials, the Android 4 signups, celebrity and brand appeal, or positive word of mouth, or a combination of all these factors, but there is no question that the number of new users signing up for Google+ each day has accelerated markedly in the past several weeks.

Google Plus Growth Rate (Predicted)

In comparison, Facebook reported that it has over 800 million users as of September, while Twitter  reported  460,000 signups per day, which has obviously shot up after its integration with iOS 5. Now, looking at the (predicted) growth of Google Plus, the numbers are surely insane.

However, the question that strikes is whether users on Google Plus are only creating accounts, or do they even use it? Well, only Google has the answer to that question.

Allen’s stats have only predicted the current users registered on the site. However, his numbers do not indicate how many are actively using the social network. Last month, some stats suggested that over half the network’s first 15 million members hadn’t been back a week after joining,  the  Telegraph  reports.

Recently, Google+ announce new features on the site, including simple slider to control the stream, multiple admins for Google+ Pages, new photo Lightbox, and “Find My Facefacial recognition tool.

So, this question is out to our readers. When was the last time you opened your Google Plus page/account? Which among the three Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus have been the most dominant? Let us know by adding your comments below, or over on our  Facebook page.

Google Plus Announces New Updates; Enables Multiple Administrators for Google+ Pages

Google has just announced a list of new improvements and changes for its Google+ social network. Google Plus Engineer, David, says that the   Google Plus team have been closely going through all the feedback provided by its users on the network, and these new improvements are the most highly requested features by the users.

Horowitz had this to say in a Google+ post earlier today –

I’m really thrilled to announce new features and functionality, all of which will be rolling out in the next day or so… These aren’t bells-and-whistles, but really deep improvements that I’m sure you are going to love.

The team knocked it out of the park… Huge congrats and thanks to the many folks who really gave of themselves to make this pre-holiday mega-launch possible. (I hope they find a moment to recharge during the holidays, because we have some awesome stuff planned for 2012!)

Enjoy, and as usual, tell us what you think so that we can learn, improve and adapt accordingly.  #seasonforshipping

Simple Slider to Control the Stream

Noise filter is one of the highly requested features on Google Plus. Many users complained that they don’t have enough controls over their streamline.

With an aim to help you keep track of everything important shared on the network, Google has decided to add “fine-grained controls that will enable you to ‘graphic-equalize’ and fine-tune your stream.” With a simple slider (on the top-right of the stream) you will be allowed to control the volume of posts that are shared in the main Google+ stream from each contact or a circle.

Whit this, you can then determine how much of content from that specific circle or person will appear in your main stream. This will stop heavy posters from surpassing everyone else on your stream, and you won’t miss anything that is important.

Google + Multiple Admins

Google+ Pages were announced very recently, and looking at all of the feedback provided by users, majority of them requested for multiple administrators or “Managers” to the pages. Companies and organizations with a Google+ Page can now add up to 50 administrators, with notifications, and more. The notification system will enable all administrators to keep up with the activities and conversations on the side –

“We’ll now show on aggregated count of users that have engaged with your page, either by +1′ ing it or by adding it to a circle. This way, both you and your page’s visitors can get an at-a-glance summary of who is interacting with your page. ”

Along with this, Google also announced that Page administrators (“Managers”) will be provided with elements of statistics showing the involvement of users clicked on +1’s, page interactions, adding the page to their circles, and so on. Both the administrator and the page visitors can get an at-a-glance summary of who is interacting with your page.

New Photo Lightbox

The redesigned and improved Lightbox will make viewing of photos a better experience on Google Plus. The Lightbox has got an improved navigation, enhanced comments, full screen photo views (like the Facebook style), jump between photos with the bird’s eye view, and many more. Along with all these, Google Plus has made tagging more intuitive. You can easily tag and label your friends in your photos.

Another small improvement is the redesign of the little red notification indicator on the top-right of the screen – on the Google Bar. The new indicator is designed to give a slightly longer sneak-preview of new updates. Google says that they have polished these notifications and made a few other meaningful improvements too, including the ability to see the +1’s and shares your posts have received since you last checked.

All of these features will be rolled out to all users on the network in the next couple of days, and the Google+ team hopes that its user would find these changes useful this Christmas season and beyond. What do you think of the new features? Let us know by adding your comment below.