Google Apps

The top 10 features missing from Google Plus

Google+ has captured the attention and the imagination of the technology world. But, it's easy to forget that it's still in closed beta. Here are the top 10 things that need to be fixed or added.

There's a lot to like about Google+ and it has the potential to make a major impact on the future of the Internet. After just two weeks in closed beta, it already has 10 million users. Still, it's far from perfect. I've put together my list of the top 10 things Google needs to fix or add in Google+. Take a look at the list and then jump into the discussion and argue with me by adding the fixes that you think deserve more attention in Google+.

1. Let us mute someone from the Stream

On Google+ it is a lot easier to find friends and people to follow than any social network that has been built so far. And, with Circles, you can divided them into groups and then easily jump between the various streams of your Circles. However, there is also the big "Stream," which aggregates all of the people you have in Circles and this is the default view you see on Google+. The one feature missing here is the ability to mute a person from the Stream (while still being able to see their updates in their Circle). You can mute individual posts from the Stream, but you can't currently mute a person. This is badly needed so that you can stay connected to interesting people but not have the overly chatty people monopolize your Stream.

2. Show list of my +1 items from Google+

The +1 button allows you to give the thumbs up to really good Google+ posts and updates. However, this should also work like a list of favorites or bookmarks. Right now, there's no way to see a list of the things where I have clicked +1. If I go to my profile there is a +1 tab, but that's the list of external items (from web sites or Google search results) where I've clicked +1. The items from Google+ itself need to be added to this list.

3. Fix the share and re-share issue

One of the stickiest issues Google needs to figure out is the Share functionality. If you're familiar with Twitter, this is like a Retweet (RT). However, when you share a post on Google+, it removes all of the comments and +1s, allows you to add your own comments above the post, and then your followers can add their own plusses and comments. That can be pretty cool, except when a bunch of the people you follow all share and re-share the same post. With the approach Google has taken to sharing, there may not be an easy answer, but something will need to be done to sort this out, at least for stuff that gets shared more than 2-3 times in your stream.

4. Let us sort the stream by raw timeline

By default, the big Stream (and the Circle streams as well) are sorted by relevance and popularity, based on the number of +1 votes and shares, so that the most interesting stuff rises to the top of the Stream. However, Google should also give us the option to sort the stream based solely on timestamp, so that we can see the stuff from people who post interesting things but don't have as many followers to buoy their posts.

5. Allow comments to be threaded

This is an issue of intense debate, but I think Google should allow threaded commenting on Google+ so that people can comment on and respond to comments, and not just the original post. That would make the threads a lot easier to follow when they get a lot of comments. And, comments on comments could be collapsed by default and users could simply click a plus sign to expand and view them. However, the threading would only need to go three layers deep to allow a response and a counterpoint.

6. Add more functionality to mobile

It's impressive that Google had its Android app for Google+ ready to download the moment that it launched the "Field Trial" of the new service, and shortly thereafter it submitted an iPhone/iPad app to Apple for approval in the App Store. Even better, the Android app for Google+ is very well done. However, it's not perfect and it could make the mobile Google+ experience a lot better by adding key functionality -- e.g. the ability to +1 a comment, the ability to join a hangout, the ability to easily flip between the big stream and circle streams, etc. While they're at it, Google should add more core functionality to its HTML app as well. That would be a great way to drive more participation and get a jump on Facebook, which still doesn't have a great mobile experience.

7. Open it up to Google Apps users

In order to get into the Google+ beta you need a Gmail address (or a Google Account). It does not currently work for the Google Apps domains, which are business accounts where the company is using a corporate version of Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and other Google web apps. Google has stated that Google+ pages for businesses and brands are coming soon. Hopefully, Google+ for Google Apps users won't be far behind. Since some people may end up having separate Google+ accounts for personal (Gmail) and business (Google Apps) use, Google should also consider options for letting those users log in to both accounts from different tabs in the Chrome web browser.

8. Integrate private messaging

One of the biggest things Google+ is missing compared to rivals Facebook and Twitter is the ability to send a private message to a mutual contact. Sure, there are a few workarounds and hacks that let you do it, but Google needs to make this part of the product's primary functionality. It also wouldn't hurt to integrate GoogleTalk (instant messaging) as well.

UPDATE: Google has added a "Send an email" button in Google+ profiles. So, you can now send an email to anyone with a Google+ profile (by default), even if they don't have you in one of their circles. This is different than private messaging, which I still think would be useful.

9. Set up verified accounts

Since there are already celebrities showing up on Google+ -- and a lot of people who are impersonating celebrities -- Google needs to set up something similar to Twitter's Verified Accounts. Just do a search for "Mark Zuckerberg" or "Lady Gaga" on Google+ and take a look at how many accounts there are. There are also plenty of sneaky imposters, like the person who pretended to be Apple's Jony Ive (the account has been deleted).

10. Show list of interactions with each user

Another useful feature that Google should add is the ability to go to a user's profile page and see all of that person's interactions with you -- their +1s and comments on your posts, as well as your +1s and comments on their posts. This would help figure out if you should add a person to your Circles, and if so, which Circles you should put them in or add them to.

Also read

When you go to Google+, you can find my profile here.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

60 comments
diammeter
diammeter

I saw a link for google plus but it said it wouldn't work on my tablet and to use a pc instead. I have an Elonex which works with some apps and not others and is a bit basic but I thought it funny that the most portable of systems ie android would direct me to a pc instead. I like some of the tips I get from your website and use them to customise my notebook which is all I have left in the pc line. Some directions as to the most useful info on the new plus site would be very welcome.

bblackmoor
bblackmoor

All these other "missing features" are little more than distractions. The real "missing feature" which makes Google+ a non-starter is that users do not control their own identities. While the people running Google persist in their delusion that they can know, much less enforce, what anyone's "real" identity is, Google+ == Epic Fail. http://www.blackgate.net/blog/index.php?s=google

subhomoy.chakraborty
subhomoy.chakraborty

A heavy Duty Punch G+ can slap on its rivals is to allow the users to have an additional online storage system.. not large but somewhat justified for personal users (uploads only not sharing)and online collaboration of regular tools like the Gdocs. Only concern being the security, which I presume Google can handle well. Kudos to G+ Not allowing enterprise profiles into personal domain and redirect the enterprise profiles in a separate category. Social media with Enterprise marketing is a total mess. Keep them separate and its much more user friendly, and draws more to each specific categories.

SamFrench
SamFrench

Well of course they want you to have a G-Mail account. And, based on what I've read and heard in interviews with the G+ "inventors", they're headed for an integrated IM that's it's own thing and --though it won't be Farmville, per se-- there is going to be a gaming element that's designed to bring users together who might not otherwise know they have anything in common. Well... duh! G+ is hoping to be the :"next gen" social network that's doing everything right the one(s) behind it got wrong (just as FB did to MySpace.) The multiple circles thing is going to get tricky, but FB should have worked on segmenting itself thusly without the necessity to create multiple user accounts a long time ago. I suppose the biggest challenge in front of G+ is REALLY making a difference as opposed to just being yet another social network option which we all use for what it's best at and using (something else) for out other needs.

ramachandraniyers
ramachandraniyers

i am retired personnel..i offer to edit the articles for fine tuning..thank you

linchayes
linchayes

I see the long term benefits of where they are going but you hit the nail directly on the head when you said that things can currently be a lot better integrated.

photuris
photuris

The lack of a separate private messaging system one reason why I like G+ better than Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. It always bugged me that my Facebook friends would insist on messaging me within the confines of the Facebook system, which would require me to go to Facebook and log in simply to check my messages (which is one reason why, by the way, my Facebook account is largely neglected these days); when in fact we have a private messaging system called EMAIL that works very well, is website independent, and has been used by millions for many many years. I love the fact that G+ simply defaults to using email, rather than implementing yet another segregated proprietary messaging system for me to check. It just makes sense.

gwainwright
gwainwright

You can +1 a post in the mobile app. If you tap the post, it takes you to a screen containing the post & comments. There's a +1 on the top. Did you mean the ability to +1 comments on posts? Doesn't look like you can do that.

becchi
becchi

I know there are hacks out there now which let you see your FB stream, in parallel to your G+ stream, but what I am looking for is the ability to communicate from any one of my social media worlds to all the others (we can do that from twitter to FB and / or back now, right?)....just sayin'.

cybershooters
cybershooters

We're not children, you can actually write an article that is not the "top ten" of this or that.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I disagree with integrated private messaging. I think that Google offers these services, and adding redundant services that exist only within the scope of the Google+ boundaries creates LESS centralized management of communications. I think Google's goal is to centralize and consolidate, and it is a goal I think is worth pursuing. I've already got dozens of different ways of communciating - frequently with the same group(s) of people. I don't want one more stream of information to manage. I'd rather have one less. If a G-mail account is a requirement to have a Google Plus account, then making G-mail the default method for private correspondence between Plus users makes sense. Why have ANOTHER, completely separate method that is still basically e-mail - only e-mail that is is limited to communication only within the Google+ ecosystem? Likewise if Google Chat is Google's IM solution, why have another IM solution that is unique to Plus? Aren't these extra wheels, that are less robust than the wheels that already exist, that aren't necessary in the first place? Everything else is spot on, though.

Kathy@KathyHowe.com
Kathy@KathyHowe.com

Jason, all great suggestions. Especially "mute" and "private messaging". I have 2 people in 1 circle that post great things but 10-12 post a day and they are then shared by all the same people in the circle. right now I have 4 or 5 people in a circle where we have 103 of the same people in that circle. Wish G+ could sense if the post had already been received by a G+ member... #justwishin

submissions
submissions

One thing I have not seen mentioned is the ability for people to place malware and nasty surprises in Google+. For example Wordpress does not allow you to post anything but the simplest HTML code. Can someone confirm that script type exploits are not possible from within Google+?

Aves3888
Aves3888

Even better, the Android app for Google+ is veyr well done. (Spell check)

shridharabhi
shridharabhi

A few set-backs in Google+ However, G+ have made circles as basic element for only the new features. We still can't get just photos shared in a particular circle nor we can have a calender for circles(with birthdays, party palns, reunion plans, dates ) nor docs within circles. Hope they do it. User Interface - No words against UI except there is no option for changing themes like in Gmail. It would be pleasent if they allow us to design the themes as in blogger rather than just few pre-built ones to select. How do I want G+ to be expanded? WIth apps and games contributing to major part of Facebook addiction, if ever Google is planning on introducing games and apps into G+, they should do it on circle basis. Let only users who are intrested in games and apps form a circle and chillout or hangout rather than spamming all the users in friend list with requests who don't care. My vision of Smartening the social network Social networking has become a means of spamming. Why not bring in the old concept of 'filtering'. How? Its time to be smart. Everyone wants a smart interface and why not we socialize smartly with new concepts of 'Smart share', 'Smart notifications' and 'Smart comments'. These should be provided as an option rather than embedded for all. Smart share - Any post of a user if reshared, it just needs a notificaton, afterall its their post copied, no need to show all details.So if a photo of me is reshared, I just want notification and link to that reshared post rather than seeing cumilative reposts of mine in stream. This would give me chance of looking into streams from others rather than mine stacked up, for which I have my personal WALL which G+ haven't come up with a name yet. Smart notification - With this option, a user will get notifications only if a user in one of your circle comments on a post of another in one of your circle. This feature would help in filtering notifications so that if one of my friend in a circle comments on totally strange person's post (who might be in his circle who I don't know), I wouldn't get the notification. Smart comments - Another potential for improvement is allowing users to comment on others post with circles as sharing criteria so that we can see comments on that post from people only in our circles/all comments. Suppose person ABC has friends circle with 1,2,3,4,XYZ and another person XYZ has friends circle ABC,3,4,5,6, If now ABC shares something with circle, then provide XYZ with an option to either see all comments or comments from 3 and 4 who are common to ABC and XYZ and an option for XYZ to post a comment on it to be seen by all or 3 and 4 who are common.

thoughtstorms
thoughtstorms

I use a Firefox add-on called "Better Facebook" and it lets you hide posts you've read until someone comments again, or you can dismiss completely. This makes it FAR easier to get through your stream! The add-on is a bit buggy, but worth it until Fb improves. G+ needs this to be native!

thoughtstorms
thoughtstorms

Threaded "bulletin board" conversations are rare to find anywhere anymore, at least in the places i haunt. It is very effective, in my opinion. Fb doesn't do it, so people have taken to @ing people so it is known about which comment they are writing. An "L"-shaped arrow can overcome the indenting troubles of more than 3 levels. Some nuanced conversations might need more than 5 levels. All social networking need more options than just "+1" or "like". I agree (took me a while to come to this opinion) that "Dislike" is a bad idea, like feeding all trolls at all times. But "Interesting" is needed. If the post says "Hitler killed ____ people" or such, "Like" is hardly appropriate! "Funny" would be good, getglue.com has that. They have a drop down marked "Vote" which yields "Funny" "Agree" and "Cool". Not voting is plenty for indicating you find something none of the above. Digg.com's "bury" might have been a good idea there, since it's a numbers game. I love the absence of farmvillemafiaelfvampire crap. But that said, there could be destination items that aren't annoying. Word games, just-for-fun contests ... some reason to go to G+ even when you have no notifications. Discussions are already happening about how to spell things like "+1ing \ +1'ing" ... a good sign that G+ is taking off.

maybl8r99
maybl8r99

11. Buzz should appear in your stream (sounds corny) - or else what do I do with my Buzzes

bntandoyenkosi
bntandoyenkosi

have n`t tried it havent heard the priviledge top join so wow to i join g+

lars
lars

Most of the people I know have joined using their Gmail account, so it's not really a hardship to just use that. It's so deeply embedded that it almost works like Facebook messaging. Having said that, I still prefer FB :-D

anandmistry
anandmistry

You had done great work to list 10 missing features on Google+. But, I have issues with sharing option. I am not able to share URL directly to Google plus post areal. Have any idea about it? If yes so let me know.

ahsommer
ahsommer

a) Ability to group circles. Ie: Make a circle that contains circles! b) instead of single circle stream or Stream (all) - add ability to pick multiple circles to view in the stream. There are some people whom you follow (like Jason Hiner) who post so much stuff that if you put them into a circle and view stream - they drown out everything else! (Sorry Jason :) ) c) GTalk is integrated - right there on the left side under Chat :) d) Add location is too restrictive - it often puts you close, but not at where you are. Need ability to tweak the location, like manually adding the actual address - and having the system learn from that. e) related to above - integrate Latitude correctly - a bit screwed up now! f) You can already sign up with ANY EMAIL ACCOUNT - just need a google profile! g) Ability to pick a SINGLE photo from an ALBUM and share that! Currently can only share selected photos from your instant upload - not from ALBUMs h) And when people get the temptation to start building games for G+, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give us the ability to block classes of applications from posting to us - ever! i) related to above - make seperate NOTIFICATION area for such 'application' type alerts. I could go on a bit, but these are my top points! Cheers

Compusavy
Compusavy

Though this application is more protective for social networking and has advantages on Privacy of a person and group, unlike Facebook or netlog or Twitter, there are size limitations in this site like 20GB shall make others to navigate out of Google+. This is an obstalce for a group or a single to share more photos with others of his/her choice.

tristanisfeld
tristanisfeld

I hope you have noticed this, as well as I have, but also add a collapse option to the comments. If you have ever added some of your favourite youtubers to a circle called "youtubers" or what ever you may have named such a circle, the stream as well as that circle's thread can become quite... overwhelming? 200 comments, plus all of the other posts, and for fun expand some of those comments, and then so on, turns into a pdf version of a bible trying to scroll your way around. A simple collapse is all i ask

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Because TR/ZDnet is beating the drums on praising Google+ as if it was the next Messiah.

janitorman
janitorman

security issue, where stupid people share their whole lives with the world. I wish this "social networking" crap would just DIE. who cares?

jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376
jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376

I am not going to join every freakin social network that comes along. These people need to get a life if all they do is Tweet, Facebook and now Google Plus. I barely have time to read my email anf Facebook about going to the grocery store. Let alone sign up for another time wasting site like Google Plus.

kwwall
kwwall

So glad you didn't pick Farmville as one of the essential top 10 missing features. ;-)

kris
kris

I have a business email with Google Apps and that was how I got my Google+ account...Works fine for me.

dave.mitchell
dave.mitchell

I hope Google+ consider this as a serious improvement. I think they will gain credibility if they can control the rotten wood.

lass23
lass23

Great article, and I wanted to give you +1 but it was not there!:)

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

A negative blog about Google from TR! I think there should be a national holiday. :-)

tharonjay
tharonjay

When I upload photos taken from my phone I would like to organize them into different albums and share the albums between different Streams. Right now the only way I found to create a new album is to download the photos to my pc then create a new album which you can only select photos from your pc.

yorro.a
yorro.a

There are more missing features and issues at Official Google+ Discussion Forum. Some are serious which even involves privacy, I saw one thread that has many pissed off users because Google automatically publicized their Picasa albums.

halfey
halfey

I want the ability to select a circle as the default stream.

cohen.smalpage
cohen.smalpage

G+ already has google talk because there are people who dont have G+ accounts yet that I can see online and chat to on G+ Another thing, you should add a g+ sharing option to this site.

imc1976
imc1976

You can post something on your wall, and send it to a single person, instead of one or more circles. In that case, they get an email (if they have the default settings) and only they can see it, and only you can see their responses. It is technically on your "wall", but it functions as a private conversation.

link470
link470

I, too, wish there was a way to delete my own accidental posts on TR... Hey Jason, could this be number 1 on a new list for Top features missing from Tech Republic comments? ;)

link470
link470

That's one of the things I like best about Google+ so far. I've never had a Facebook account, but Google+ is SUPER clean.

shanse3
shanse3

We use Google Apps here at work and Google Plus works fine for me. I know it's not supposed to work...but it does. We definitely use Google Apps and I am definitely logging in to G+ with my account.

whoiskevin
whoiskevin

Google has admitted they don't work together and they don't. I suspect you may not have a google apps account or you may still have a separate google account with the same email but they are separate accounts and if you end up needing to change passwords for instance you will find that they are not the same account.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

but, as I mentioned in the article it doesn't integrate with Google+ quite yet. :-) Still, thank you for the sentiment, and stayed tuned!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

at the beginning of the article, just below the article title and to the right of Jason's byline.

journyman
journyman

Let me tick which circles I want to stream so I can have a selected number of circles being streamed instead of just one or all of them

AristonCC
AristonCC

If you have someone in one of your Circles, just put them in the "+Add more people" field as the only person and you have an instant private conversation.

kris
kris

You know what...I had one and was in there using it just the other day...I swear...but your right. Doesn't work with that email anymore. Odd UPDATE: Figured out what happened. I got the PLus account with a google apps email but then the company transitioned to the new system (another huge Google pain in the butt) and it pushed my plus account to a new gmail email I was forced to create during the transtions. Google use to let you have the google apps account and then that email could become a google account too. So you are right, I had both and apps account and google account with the same email.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I think this branch kind of highlights one of the things about Google+. It isn't Facebook, and it isn't Twitter - but it operates a lot like a hybrid of both of these sites. That in itself can be a little disconcerting. At the same time that Plus gives me more granular control over my circles and posts, it also allows people to follow me in a non-reciprocal manner more like Twitter. I'm still trying to figure out the proper etiquette. I've got one Follower who is in my circles who is very vocal and passionate about his technical opinions. He is actually someone I know well enough to consider part of my "friends" circle. But his posts have been a little bit raw and uncensored. Frankly, I worry about this offending some of the people I follow and who follow me through *other* circles. I guess my feeling is that we're still figuring out exactly how Plus works, and how we'll work and operate within it.