It appears that Google is listening to feedback on their new social networking site and acting accordingly. Google+ had a bit of a rocky launch with issues around brand accounts, and a total lack of Google Apps support. Even a Google Engineer recently called the service a “knee-jerk” response to Facebook. During the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco yesterday, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and SVP Of Social Business Vic Gundotra talked about the changes coming to Google+. Two of the biggest announcements were support for Google Apps and a change in the “real-name” policy.
TechWebTV posted the entire interview (30+ minutes) from the Web 2.0 summit:
Backpedaling About ‘Real Names”
Google initially took a very strong stance on what users had to provide in order to use Google+. Users neeeded to have a public profile and were required to use their real names. Gundotra announced that they will be retreating from that hard stance as they “will support pseudonyms in the future.” The SVP of social could only say that they “are coming” and that it is a complicated feat to accomplish.
While Gundotra did not expand on the types of Pseudonyms that will be allowed (nicknames vs. handles) he made it clear that users won’t have full range as to what they can call themselves. Gundotra explained that Google implemented the ‘real-name’ rule for multiple reasons, one of which was atmosphere. He stated “if you are a woman and you post a photo and captain crunch or dog fart comments on it, it changes the atmosphere of the product.” Gundotra went on to say that Google+ was about connecting with people that you know. So “other forms of identity” are coming, but will likely have some layers of quality control.
Support For Google Apps
One of the items at launch that was mysteriously missing from Google+ was the total lack of Google App integration. Seeing that many businesses use Google Apps (at the conference Brin asked and the majority of the crowd were users) alienating them seemed unusual.
I was a textbook case for Google App and Google+ frustration. I had set up a Google+ account and then was forced to transition it to a brand new email address where I could create a Google profile. So while throughout the day I use my regular email address (and am logged-in) in order to use Google+ I have to sign-out and re-login with a new email address that I only use for Google Plus (GregFinnGPlus[at]gmail.com). During my daily use, I am currently unable to +1 items or share to Google+ unless I was logged in with my new GregFinnGPlus email that I made. Additionally, my Android phone used my Google Apps email address (but not the new GPlus email address) so I am unable to use the Google+ App. To make matters worse, friends began inviting my Google Apps email address to the Google+ service. All of these items combined really made me appreciate Facebook and its simplicity.
Overall the Google+ experience has been either non-existent or horrific for Google Apps users, but during the interview Google announced the support of Google Apps. Gundotra stated that Google Apps support will be released “within days.” While this is promising, many questions still linger. Can Google App accounts and existing profiles be combined? Can multiple email address be used for one account? Will Google+ accounts be accessible if a user loses access to their Google Apps email address? Thankfully should see these answers rolled out within the next few days.
This interview (and Q&A) also found Brin stating that “I’m not a social person … Google+, I instantly found compelling.” Gundotra and Brin both reacted to the ‘internal’ engineer letter, Google+ usage, brand pages and more which we covered in depth yesterday.