By now, you've probably at least heard of Google+ and you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Is it really the new Facebook?
Facebook stinks when it comes to filtering your conversations. Post photos of your kids playing Batman and Robin before bed and every "friend" sees it. With the Google+ project, you create circles of people, and you selectively share information with certain circles.
As you post comments, photos or links, you choose what circles to share each item with. You can add your mom to a family circle, your boss to a work circle, and your friends to yet another. You can even add people to multiple circles. After all, your cube-mate is a co-worker and a friend, right?
Anyone who has been uncomfortable when asked, "Why haven't you accepted my friend request?" knows the limitations of Facebook. But Google+ has no invites. If someone adds you to a circle, that person will automatically see your public posts. You can follow anyone you want, even without that person adding you as a friend. You can see what people share with the public and, unlike Twitter, they won't be limited to 140 characters. Imagine what Ashton Kutcher will do with this.
Another way to connect with your circles is through the Hangout feature, a video chat that up to 10 people can join. You can open your chat session to certain circles, all of your circles, or even the public at large, like chatroulette. This is great for meetings, book clubs or just reconnecting with old friends.
Does your daily dose of updates from your favorite TV show start your morning off right? Instead of fan pages and like buttons, use Sparks to track just about anything from Harry Potter to Starbucks and news that posts anywhere on the internet about your "Spark" will show up in your Stream (Google's version of a Facebook News Feed).
Google+ was built with the mobile user in mind. Huddle is like a chat room and a group text combined. Have you ever tried to coordinate a last-minute venue change for a dinner with multiple attendees? You could group text everyone, but if anyone can't accommodate the change, it's like herding cats. Huddle will let you quickly create a closed chat room where everyone can text the group all at once.
Instant Upload allows you to automatically upload every photo you take with your linked smartphone to a folder in your profile. Then simply choose whom to share it with, if anyone.
I'm not ready to say Facebook is the next Myspace, but after spending some time with Google+ I can see myself switching as my friends do. It seems I am not alone. Even as an invite-only service, Google+ already has over 20 million users.
Are you ready to take a look at Google+, but don't want to buy an invite on eBbay? Send me a note at www.callnerds.com/andrea and I'll invite you to the party.
Andrea Eldridge is CEO of Nerds on Call, a company based in Redding, Calif., that offers on-site computer and home theater set-up and repair