I’ve been a harsh critic and user of Google products over the last few years. They do ugly. They do half-arsed. They don’t do perseverance. But, thanks to search and ads, they do very well. Very well indeed. Everything else is a side issue for them. Google+ is the latest toy they’ve pushed out. And despite the hype, I couldn’t quite jump on that bandwagon. They had fixed the ugly – Google+ is a slick looking site, with an even slicker Android app. They are still developing it. To be fair they seem to be persevering with it too.
It turns out, that was a portent of things to come. Android Market was updated a while back too. The improvements have turned it into an aesthetic, mature and very capable eco system. A worthy rival of Apples App Store. The ugliest of Google’s ugly brigade, GMail, was recently revamped too, and is looking much cleaner and modern. So much so that I’ve gone back to it. Windows Live is no more for me. I’m a Gmail man again.
Google Reader’s new look has grown on me too. That was never ugly. And I’ve always used it. But I appreciate the make-over. The new navigation system Google employs to switch between mail, maps, feeds and their other toys is a joy to use. Looks good. Works smoothly. I bet it even tastes great too. YouTube was updated just a couple of days ago. Has that been beautified as well? Pft. One can ask for only so much. Nope, they took their one half decent looking product and uglified it. But they did at least focus on Channels when turning it into a hideous eyesore.
I like Channels now. Since I got my Sony Media Player, channels on YouTube make perfect sense. I finally ‘get’ them. I’ve always loved podcasts. Now YouTube just became a video podcast system for my media player. Brilliant. I’m loving my Sony player by the way. It’s a superb little device. Highly recommended.
So anyway, the crux of the market. In the last couple of weeks, Google has (for me) gone from being an ugly behemoth that I used for searching for stuff, to an entire ecosystem that has taken over a sizeable chunk of my internet life and activity. Windows Live Mail, Bing Maps, Vimeo and others have bitten the Mexile dust. My headline wasn’t misleading. It has been a Google Revolution.
The biggest factor behind all this? My Android phone. That’s the real killer app. Fact is, the way Android works obliges you to attach yourself to Google and their products. To a degree, at least. They’re forever trying to pull you in. You can use other services on an Android device, but you somehow always feel you’re in a constant fight. You’re trying to push back. There were two viable solutions to make Android a truly happy device, in my opinion. They needed to up their game and get their services up to scratch. To better, or at least match, the opposition. Or else Google needed to stop trying to suck you in. Give you the freedom to go your own way. They’ve done the former. And I’m just fine with that for now.
As for Google+? Meh. All my old arguments against that being a success remain. Picasa is still in the background as far as the photos go. Still ugly. I’m still getting hundreds of random strangers ‘friending’ me. I’ve no idea who they are. Nor do I care. Google fanboys tell me that this is great. It’s ‘engagement’ apparently. They way I see it, ‘engagement’ is just a new word for spam. Or, if I’m b’eng polite, noise.
But. Google does seem to be going in the right direction. Maybe I should hold out hope for Google+. I wouldn’t mind using that instead of Facebook. The problem , and it was the key problem I identified from the start, is getting people to switch en masse from Facebook. It isn’t happening. The real life friends I have who signed up…all but one have abandoned it. That spells dead as far as being a Facebook rival goes.