A screencap of a Google Hangout session with bright green spectacles drawn on my face.

This Thing has been looking at the iBehemoth that is Google - primarily Google+ and Hangouts.

I must confess to not being a big fan of G+ or Hangouts. I also find Google's whole ecosystem a little discomfiting. I don't particularly want to give them my phone number and let them access my web cam and connect my YouTube account and let them know what colour underwear I have on and everything they demand when setting up a Hangout On Air. I don't think I'm quite as cynical as Phil Bradley is about Google, but I try to keep a wary scepticism about my dealings with them (and Facebook, and Apple, and ISPs, and loyalty schemes, and banks, and the rest...).

Having said that, I am a Gmail user, Google is still my default search engine, Google maps is invaluable, I use Google Drive and Chrome at work, I was a fanatic Google Reader user until they stole it away (I still haven't really found a worthy - and free - successor), I use YouTube (but I don't really think of that as a G tool - I set up my YouTube account before it was owned by the G Monster, and I don't have it tied to my Google account), and I am tempted by the unlimited (reduced quality) photo storage offered by Google Photos.

A screencap of a Google Hangout session with bright green spectacles drawn on my face.
How do these glasses stay on?

So maybe it's just G+ and Hangouts I have yet to get to grips with. Or maybe, like with about.me a few years ago, they don't fill a need for me now, so I can't really get interested. My G+ feed is full of tumbleweed (the only posts on my timeline from the last month are from the Rudaí 23 G+ community). I can't help but think it could be going the way of Google Reader. And while Hangouts is full of fun distractions (such as Draw - how do those spectacles stay on my face?!), I don't feel it really offered anything I don't get elsewhere. And while Thing 4 claimed that "you do not need to download any new apps to use it", I did have to install the Google Voice and Video plugin - and I couldn't connect to my Hangout partner until they had also installed it.

Hangouts On Air (broadcast a live Hangout and then upload the video to YouTube) was too convoluted for my tastes. For a start, it wasn't easy to find. It wasn't where the instructional video linked to in the Thing said it would be. I eventually found it buried in the sub-menu of a sub-menu. And then had to connect to YouTube, and then give them my phone number to prove that I wasn't a robot, and then connect to YouTube because it didn't work the first time... There was no way (that I found) to play around with Hangouts On Air without actually setting up a live Hangout. I couldn't see any way of making it a totally private thing (I could make it not explicitly public, but that's not quite the same thing). And like I said above, I have nothing to Hangout for, so it feels a bit pointless for me.

In conclusion: Google, I resent thee, and I rely on thee.

#radai23 #thing4