Google+ for Apps preview - First impressions
This week, Google announced they had moved Google+ for Apps into what they call "full preview mode". If you are an existing Google Apps customer you can ask your administrator to switch the preview on or simply sign up for a trial account to check out this new feature.
This is an important move for Google, as it adds another features to compete against Microsoft's Office 365 (with a possible combination with Skype & Yammer) and others such as IBM Smart Cloud and Zoho. Integrating Google+ into Google Apps is also interesting because unlike other similar offerings, such as Yammer, this creates access to a social network that includes internal organisational users, business partners (if they are using Google Apps), and consumers all together in a single network. This could either be an inspired move or a complete disaster.
In this preview they have focused on releasing three main features:
- Private sharing for your organisation, through restricted posts.
- Integrating Hangouts (videoconferencing for up to 10 people) into with Gmail, Calendar and Docs.
- Administrative controls related to these features.
To be honest, this still looks like early days for Google+ in Google Apps for Business. Despite the private sharing, the first impression of Google+ in Google Apps is that little has been done to really make it Google+ for Business (yet) - for example:
- The user's Google+ profile is consumer orientated, for example it still contains fields to describe your personal relationship status.
- The default circles (central to filtering and managing privacy/confidentiality in Google+) suggested are "Family" and "Friends" - there aren't any company or team circles by default.
- Games haven't been disabled.
- I couldn't see any moderation controls - either for the posts or external content coming into the user's stream.
- I'm also not clear how company pages are managed - it looks like any user can create a page.
There are probably more things I've missed in the list above, but I think these features alone may be enough to put off many businesses during the preview phase. Google+ for Apps has lots of potential, but there is still quite a bit of work to be done to make it a mature competitor to other business enterprise networking tools.