Circle management tool improves

Google is rolling out some very nice (and long overdue) changes to your “Circles” page.  In particular, four things are new:

  • A new left-hand navigation system
  • Quick access to your email address book(s)
  • Circles that shrink in size on smaller screens
  • Lots of improvements to the “find people” tool

It looks to be a nice little update.  Many users (including myself) don’t have it yet, but it’s rolling out slowly.  Here are a few screenshots if you don’t have it yet:

More details can be found in this post from +Sean Purcell.

You can finally share your Google+ circles

Google is keeping the updates coming.  Starting today, you can now share you Google+ circles with other users.  From your circles page, simply select your circle, share it, and it’ll post to your stream for others to view.  They can then either add it as a circle on their own, or select some individuals from it.

The one catch is that they can only see how your circle looks right at the moment you share it; subsequent changes aren’t seen unless you share it again.  This is a bit disappointing, because you’ll have to be constantly updating your circles if you grab some from people you trust with curation.

Regardless, it’s a great addition to have.  I’ve already grabbed a few circles from others and I’m looking for more.  If you’ve shared a great circle, let us know about it in the comments.

For more about this new feature, check out the brief video from Google below:

The Google+ API is available now… sort of

Time to get coding!  Google has finally released the API for Google+, though it doesn’t do a whole lot yet.  At this point, the API only allows access to public data, meaning no access to circles or anything fun like that, but it’s certainly a start.

Full details on how to get started can be found on the Google Code blog.  Dig in!

New Google+ Feature: Drag and Drop to Reorder Circles

We suspected this was coming, and now it’s here — you can simply drag and drop your circles to put them in any order you want. Very cool!

Here’s the full post from Google’s Brett van Zuiden:

Hey there, I’m Brett, and I’m an engineer here on the Google+ Circles team. We’ve been hearing that you want a way to reorder your circles — so when you add people, view your stream, or share, that list of circles is in the order that works for you. We thought it was a great idea, and today, we’re launching this on Google+.

Let me show you how it works. Go over to the Circles tab and down to your circles. Now you can move your circles wherever you want, just by clicking and dragging with the mouse. Plus, that order will now show up everywhere across Google+, even in the dropdown menu when you add people to circles.

I hope you like it. And as always, please keep letting us know what we can do to make Google+ better for you.

Google+ could be everything you need

Mike Elgan has recently been on the “Google+ Diet” — an experiment to give up all other social media to try to focus on Google+.  It certainly has its ups and and downs, but it’s been neat to watch.

Today he posted something that made a lot of people take notice:

Here’s what I love about Google+ in general and the Google+ Diet in particular:

Instead of saying, “I’m going to write a blog post now,” or “I’m going to send an e-mail” or “I think I’ll tweet something” you simply say what you have to say, then decide who you’re going to say it to.

If you address it to “Public,” it’s a blog post.

If you address it to “Your Circles” it’s a tweet.

If you address it to your “My Customers” Circle it’s a business newsletter.

If you address it to a single person, it can be a letter to your mother.

I’d say this is pretty revolutionary.

That post has been shared more than 1000 times on Google+, as a lot of people can see the potential.  It obviously isn’t there yet, but this post really opened some people’s eyes to the potential of it.

What do you think?  Does it have a chance to one day replace many different systems?

All Google products will eventually use Circles

This could be amazing.  According to Google’s Eric Schmidt, every product on Google will eventually move to support some of the Plus infrastructure, such as Circles.

I think Paul Allen summed it up best:

This is breathtaking. I have already built 54 circles. I can imagine being able to instantly share anything I find on Google News, Google Reader or YouTube (or any any web site that I access with Chrome or my mobile phone) with any of my carefully designed Circles. This is a knowledge worker’s dream. The signal to noise ratio in our various streams will improve dramatically.

Not only will this make those other products more useful to us Google+ users, but it will drive more of those users to try out Google+.  It really seems like a brilliant move from Google.  What do you think?

Tip: How to copy one circle into another in Google+

If you’re wanting to copy one Circle of friends into another, it’s quite easy to do once you know where to click.  Thanks to Chris Cartland for sharing this tip!

1) Go to Circles.
2) Click on a circle.
3) Click “View circle in tab”.
4) On the top right click “More actions” -> “Select all”.

Then you can drag everyone from one circle into another circle.

I’ve done this to create a few larger circles, mostly for ease of filtering when I’m seeing what’s going on. Great tip!

Use circles to keep track of items you want to remember

Here’s a great little tip from David Yonge-Mallo:

Circles are useful for more than just sharing with others

I have a “Read later” circle and a “Drafts” circle, both of which include only myself.

When I see a post I want to read later, I share it only with my “Read later” circle. Then when I have some time, I open that circle and read through (and delete) the saved posts.

When I have an idea for a post, but no time to write it, I draft a rough version and share it with my “Drafts” circle. I can edit the draft by using “Edit this post” from the dropdown menu. When the post is complete, I just copy it to a new post that I can then share to my circles, after which I delete the draft post.

You can easily extend these ideas to collaborative sharing and editing.

Have fun!

Great tip, David!

Quick Google+ Tips: Deleting comments, hiding circle info

A few nice tips from Google Software Engineer Yonatan Zunger:

- If someone particularly makes a particularly obnoxious comment on your post (since alas, this is the Internet) you can delete it. Go to the little circle-and-triangle menu, and there’s an option to “remove or report comments,” and then you can nuke them one at a time.

- If you edit your profile and click on the set of people in your circles, you can control whether or not people can discover who is in your circles. Note that even if it’s public, this just lets people know “Bob is in your circles” – it never reveals which circle people are in. (So it’s completely OK to have a “Jerks, but I want to know what they’re saying” circle.) I’d actually recommend leaving this fairly open; that way, people can go through you and find more people they know. I’ve got mine set so that my circles are visible to other people in my circles.

But one particularly useful thing you can do with this is to change the visibility on a per-circle basis. In particular, you can have some circles that anyone can find out about, some circles which are connections that only other people in your circles can know about, and some circles whose membership is completely private: nobody but you will know that you’re following those people. If you have relationships you’re not comfortable broadcasting, use this feature, it gives you flexibility.

At the moment, changing the visibility of a circle does not make it completely private: it will keep the members of that circle from showing up on your profile, but not keep you from showing up on their profiles as someone following them.

- If you want to know how many people are following you, go to your circles page instead of your profiles page. It’s a minor bug which should be fixed soon, but the number on the profiles page tends to be somewhat out-of-date and skew low, especially if you’re gaining followers rapidly.

Good stuff — thanks for sharing, Yonatan!

What is Google working on now? Here’s a partial list.

Eric Cattell, the Technical Lead of the Google+ Social Graph team, recently posted a list of 13 items that they’re considering improving/adding to Google+.  The list is:

  • Some way of having hierarchical or sub-circles or some way of doing set logic (This and this but not that).
  • Easier way of dragging people from one circle to another.
  • Reordering circles
  • Gets a little “clunky” sometimes, freezes up, etc..
  • “Sharing” your circle.
  • Filtering suggestion by high school / employer / etc…
  • Easier to reciprocate relationships
  • Too many random people following me, don’t want to block them, but don’t want to see them either.
  • Out of sync if you add someone from the top bar, they aren’t in the main page.
  • Lots of duplicates in suggestions
  • Inconsistent results in autocomplete.
  • Import groups from gmail, orkut, etc..
  • I want my vanity domain to work.

Of that list, what would you like to see most? I’m thinking that Circle sharing and Vanity URLs are near the top of my list, but all of those sound like solid additions.