A screencap of a Google Hangout session with bright green spectacles drawn on my face.

Thing 4: Google

This Thing has been looking at the iBehemoth that is Google - primarily Google+ and Hangouts.

I must confess to not being a big fan of G+ or Hangouts. I also find Google's whole ecosystem a little discomfiting. I don't particularly want to give them my phone number and let them access my web cam and connect my YouTube account and let them know what colour underwear I have on and everything they demand when setting up a Hangout On Air. I don't think I'm quite as cynical as Phil Bradley is about Google, but I try to keep a wary scepticism about my dealings with them (and Facebook, and Apple, and ISPs, and loyalty schemes, and banks, and the rest...).

Having said that, I am a Gmail user, Google is still my default search engine, Google maps is invaluable, I use Google Drive and Chrome at work, I was a fanatic Google Reader user until they stole it away (I still haven't really found a worthy - and free - successor), I use YouTube (but I don't really think of that as a G tool - I set up my YouTube account before it was owned by the G Monster, and I don't have it tied to my Google account), and I am tempted by the unlimited (reduced quality) photo storage offered by Google Photos.

A screencap of a Google Hangout session with bright green spectacles drawn on my face.
How do these glasses stay on?

So maybe it's just G+ and Hangouts I have yet to get to grips with. Or maybe, like with about.me a few years ago, they don't fill a need for me now, so I can't really get interested. My G+ feed is full of tumbleweed (the only posts on my timeline from the last month are from the Rudaí 23 G+ community). I can't help but think it could be going the way of Google Reader. And while Hangouts is full of fun distractions (such as Draw - how do those spectacles stay on my face?!), I don't feel it really offered anything I don't get elsewhere. And while Thing 4 claimed that "you do not need to download any new apps to use it", I did have to install the Google Voice and Video plugin - and I couldn't connect to my Hangout partner until they had also installed it.

Hangouts On Air (broadcast a live Hangout and then upload the video to YouTube) was too convoluted for my tastes. For a start, it wasn't easy to find. It wasn't where the instructional video linked to in the Thing said it would be. I eventually found it buried in the sub-menu of a sub-menu. And then had to connect to YouTube, and then give them my phone number to prove that I wasn't a robot, and then connect to YouTube because it didn't work the first time... There was no way (that I found) to play around with Hangouts On Air without actually setting up a live Hangout. I couldn't see any way of making it a totally private thing (I could make it not explicitly public, but that's not quite the same thing). And like I said above, I have nothing to Hangout for, so it feels a bit pointless for me.

In conclusion: Google, I resent thee, and I rely on thee.

#radai23 #thing4

1 thought on “Thing 4: Google

  1. Hi.

    What an interesting post. You've hit on a few hot topics and issues with Google. You may have heard (google only announced it yesterday) that they are scaling Google+ down quite a bit. I think the original intention was that it would be a Facebook killer, but they came 3 or 4 years too late to that party. I still like the "circles" method of sharing posts, but the mass exodus from Facebook just never happened, so it became pointless putting posts up their for my own context.

    I hope that G+ doesn't go the way of Reader. Whatever about pulling YouTube, Hangouts and Photos out of the G+ ecosystem, the Community aspect in it is still very valuable in my opinion.

    Hangouts On Air is coming up in another Thing soon, so it might make more sense then. Hangouts as a straightforward instant messaging app and alternative to Skype, will gain traction in time, I think, as it is slowly becoming the default messaging app for Android.

    The Rudai23 Team

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