The Google+ Project is Google’s new social networking service.

There have been lots of detailed reviews already, for example, the Huffington Post’s Google+ Review Roundup so I’ll keep this short.

The cornerstone of G+ is Circles. Circles allow you to put your network friends into groups. You can then send updates to specific Circles or filter your reading by just viewing updates from a particular circle. I love the idea of Circles and while they are more easily understandable & usable than twitter lists (which only work as a reading filter, not in reverse) I do find the interface a little confusing. G+ Circles get a B-.

Google+ Cartoon StripWhen I first looked a Google plus with CLT colleagues a couple of weeks ago we got very excited by Hangouts. A hangout is a video web conference for up to 10 people and it is excellent. The audio/video quality is great and the video switches between speakers very quickly. G+ Hangouts get an A-.

I don’t do much photo sharing so I didn’t intentionally try out the Instant Upload. However I took a photo at our away day two weeks ago and later discovered that Google+ had kindly put it online for me. I was not amused. I guess I must have missed some small print somewhere but the default setting needs to be off not on. G+ Instant Upload gets a D from me because of this.

It’s early days and predictions are dangerous but there is definite potential. It’s certainly not Google Wave! It’ll be interesting to see whether it attracts & retains users once it goes beyond the current “field trial”. For now I’ll be staying on Twitter until I need a web conference.

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