I’m not a big fan of Google+ and use it very infrequently, but from time to time new features pop up in places where you can’t ignore them – like the Google search homepage. A couple of days ago I just noticed a notification about the birthday of a Google+ contact, on the top right, under the ‘Share’ button. Curiously, it only shows up in Internet Explorer 9 at my office, and in none of my home browsers, so it’s possibly a limited experiment or something tied to the IP address. Leaving the usual ‘who’s copying who?’ debate aside, there are a couple of things wrong with this picture:
- First of all the notification looks like an ad – you know, the one nagging users to try out a faster browser – so the first instinct is to dismiss it.
- Secondly – and more important – I think this says a lot about the direction (or lack of) of Google+. Google keeps going on and on about how this is not meant to compete with Facebook, that it’s just an extra layer for Google services, etc., but they are still adding Facebook-like features! If Google+ wants to be a community based on shared interests – like Twitter – birthday reminders are pointless to the point of spamming. Who would want to know when all the people they follow on Twitter celebrate their birthdays?!
- Also, I find it funny how notifications only appear on the search page, not inside Google+, as one would expect. It’s like they are silently admitting how few people actively use Google+!