As I said earlier this week, Google+ continues to keep techies like myself on the edge of our seats, as they introduce new features that incorporate Google+ Circles into its other Google properties. While I don’t think Google is going to win the social network battle (mind you, I’m not talking about the war) tomorrow, they will win it eventually. While this isn’t the post where I’ll get into this more broadly, I wanted to take a moment of your time to show you how Google+ Circles being wrapped into GMail (which happened before Google+ integrated with Google search results), supports my perspective on the subject.
I’ve discussed the virtues of GMail’s integration with Google Contacts, as well as Google Contact’s integration with Google Voice and Google Docs. As you may realize, Google Contacts (which has received minimal attention from the Google developers recently with the “new look,” not much marketing, and some minor updates) works as an important appendage of many Google services you use. Wherever you might want to use your contacts list, Google has made it pretty simple. Well, now think of Google+ and Google Contacts as meshing into a dynamic duo for accessing the people in your life and contextualizing them so that you can communicate more easily with them.
Think about it. On a one-to-one communication basis, Google Contacts does a pretty good job. You have each contact and you have groups of contacts, which you can add one contact to several groups. If you’d like to send an email to one or multiple people, you can add their names one by one; for groups, just type in the group’s name. These groups even make their way over to Google Voice so that the rules defined for call-handling apply to your groups in Google Contacts. (I don’t know why you couldn’t do the same with GMail filters based on group criteria, but that’s neither here nor there.)
Now, let’s take this to a little more complex arena: let’s say you’d like to communicate with everyone you know in your book club and you’d like to allow the conversation to be a bit more interactive and lively with photo and video sharing; right now, for many types of video content that’s just not possible in GMail. So, you hop on over to Google+ and you plug in your Circle called “Book Club.” It’ll notify you that X number of your members (let’s say, three) aren’t on Google+ yet (or, should I say, for long) and are notified of your message via email. So, off goes your message and you can now watch the conversation take place in real-time without having to keep logging into GMail to see the responses, because Google+ (no matter where you are in any Google product) will show you the new message at the top of your Web browser screen. Your conversation is still private and contextualized among your book club. Not only that, but now when you’re in GMail, that same Circle can be used as a list to email altogether as groups once did. And, as I’m sure you’ll see soon, you’ll be able to see GMail/Google Talk chat, email messages and Google+ posts in one stream within GMail so that you can track communications with the same people or Circles of people more seamlessly. Google+ continues to overlap your services in ways that make it almost foolish not to be on the network, if only to manage your contacts and the contexts in which you know them.
And, with that Google+ will win. We all want an easier way to manage our small businesses without having to do more work and Google+ is paving the path there. I’ll be writing more about this over the next few weeks, and I’m curious: which Google+ integration would you most like to see?