Are Inflated Stats and Shiny Updates Enough to Carry G+ Through Year Two?

Google had so many items to cover at their I/O developer conference that they turned their keynote into keynote(s) – a two day extravaganza packed with glorified stats and subjectively exciting product annoucements. In celebration of Google+’s first birthday, let’s take a look at where the oft-criticized social network has been in its first year, and where it’s headed for 2012 and beyond.

Stats

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What would a keynote be without a steady stream of positive statistics? Google came prepared with some impressive (albeit sugarcoated) numbers. According to Google, their one-year-old social network has:

  • 250 million users
  • 150 million monthly users
  • 75 million daily users, meaning 50% of monthly users sign in every day

They also noted that there is more network usage via mobile versus desktop. As far as time on site, active G+ users are said to spend over 360 minutes per month on the site, as compared to Facebook users’ 441 minutes per month.

As always though, we’ve got to take Google’s statistics with a grain of salt. The way they measure things, “active user” could mean those who are logged into G+’s sister products, or even just an offsite click of the +1 button. It’s a matter of (highly disputed) opinion whether or not these “users” are really “active.”

Tablet app

Inflated stats aside, the Google+ team has been hard at work building new tools to lure users in. When introducing the tablet app, the G+ team emphasized that the app is designed with the device in mind. “Our tablet app isn’t just bigger, like our mobile app isn’t just smaller,” the Google Developer’s blog reiterates.

The stream will feature content based on popularity, type and orientation. Hangouts will be catered to the tablet setup, with special tablet-friendly touch features that allow users to swipe left and right among the people in a Hangout. Continuing with a stream of aesthetic improvements to the network, the G+ app will feature “crisper text, fuller photos and easily-tappable actions.”

The app is currently available for Android tablets, but said to be coming soon for iPad.

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Google+ Events

With its newest tool, Google+ is out to fix a service that most people haven’t even identified as being broken. Facebook Events and other online event services are stuck on the “before” of event planning, Google points out. Rather than focusing strictly on invites and RSVPs, Google+ Events is “for all the moments that matter – before, during and after.”

Before

Google+ Events wants to take digital invitations one step further. Users can create pretty little custom invites – but more importantly, these invites automatically sync up with your Google Calendar.

During

The other problem with events? “Too many photos get stranded in too many places.” Cue Google+’s Party Mode which, when enabled, automatically pushes any photos you take to the G+ event page in real-time. The more people who turn on Party Mode and snap pictures, the more photos show up in the party page’s stream.  There’s even a live slideshow option that lets you project photos during the event – what we like to call the visual (and more fun) answer to showing a livestream of tweets at your event. This live projection feature sounds a lot like Mosaic Photo System, a product we discovered last weekend at Techweek‘s Startup City.

After

Once the event is over, guests (and the rest of the world, if you permit them) can see all the event photos in one place – not 25 different smartphones, not four friends’ Flickr pages or seven separate Facebook albums, but one single stream on Google+. Pictures and comments will show up in chronological order from all guests with the ability to browse by popularity, photographer or tag.

 

Google+ fanboys and haters – what are your thoughts one year after the network’s debut? Are clean aesthetics, device-friendly apps and event tools enough to make G+ last, or just the latest round of SOS features?

* G+ birthday cake image originally posted by Guy Kawasaki on Google+.