Photo: Ellis Hamburger, Business Insider
Google+ is off to a good start.Most estimates peg the user base at 20 million members so far.
But It’s going to take more than that to catch up to Facebook’s 750 million users.
As we said when Google+ first launched, it’s a great product, but doesn’t offer enough killer features that will convince people to make the switch.
Google+ is still technically in beta, so there’s plenty of room to improve. Before it can start really going after Facebook, it needs to address a few of its common annoyances first.
Here are some suggestions to get Google+ on its way.
A lot of Facebook's success comes from online games like Farmville and Cityville. Despite how annoying they may be in your your news feed or stream, the fact remains that they're a huge attraction to millions of users.
Developers are dying to start writing useful apps for Google+. With third-party apps, Google+ has the potential to become a great productivity tool for users. Google has already said it will open up to applications, but the sooner this happens, the better.
Brands and media outlets want to be where the crowd is. Lately, Google has been removing brand and celebrity pages on Google+, although it has said it will allow them soon.
Fan pages on Facebook have seen a ton of success, so it makes sense for Google+ to do the same.
The only direct messaging option in Google+ is Gmail. That's fine; Gmail is awesome. But we'd like to see our inboxes within Google+ so we don't have to bounce back and forth between the two services.
It's easy to add someone from you Gmail contacts to a circle in Google+. But what if you're searching for someone else? That's not so easy. Assuming Google can figure out how to do so without infringing on privacy, it should be easier to find the profiles for people outside of your direct network.
Right now, searching within Google+ opens 'regular' Google search in a separate tab or window.
We would love to be able to search for public posts or posts within our circles on Google+. It'd be a lot better than the current method of scrolling through your Stream and hoping you find what you need.
When someone adds you to one of their Circles all you see is that 'So and So is now sharing with you.' We're hoping for a future option that lets your Google+ contacts know which Circle you added them to.
This should be pretty simple to do. For those of us who are on multiple social networks, it would be great to be able to cross post between Google+ and Twitter.
Sparks is a unique way to keep up with news on the web using Google+. You can add interests to the feature and get a stream of related links and videos. Google+ should kick this up a notch and integrate Google Reader so users don't have to switch between the two services to keep up with news.
LinkedIn launched an amazing service earlier this year that aggregates popular links into a daily digest newsletter. It's called LinkedIn Today, and it's amazing way to keep up with the stories your contacts are sharing.
Google+ would be smart to add a similar feature.
Huddles are Google's answer to group messaging services like GroupMe. But it only works if you have the Google+ app for iPhone or Android. For those who don't use the smartphone app, it would be great to add Huddles to the desktop version too.
Hangouts are one of the biggest draws to Google+, allowing you to host group video chats. (Facebook only allows one on one video chats using Skype.)
We'd love to see Hangouts hit smartphones and tablets too. Group video chat is already available using mobile apps like Fring, so it's definitely possible.
We'll give Google credit for making this a bit better, but there are still instances where we see threads of dozens of comments in our Stream. The best solution would be to make comment threads automatically collapse after two or three responses.
This is pretty straightforward. It's annoying that you can't reply to a specific commenter in a thread using Google+. This should also be a quick fix.
Note: the image here is from the Chrome extension Replies and More.
Google's new toolbar appears in all Google services so far. We'd like a browser extension from Google that gives us the bar when we move on to another site.