Few years ago when it came to social networking in India and Brazil, you could hear everyone saying “Orkut!” Well, things have changed now. Facebook is the king of social networking in almost every country. Even Brazilians and Indians have started using Facebook now due to which Orkut users are dropping day by day. But, Google has not yet lost it completely when it comes to social networking. Although, Google failed at many instances when social networking was taken into consideration, Google Plus seems to be promising, interesting and not boring or hard to use like its previous social networking products like FriendConnect, Google Wave or Google Buzz which were big failures. Facebook should watch out for their new competitor Google Plus and not take it for granted.
Yesterday, I stumbled upon the word ‘Orkut’ when I was searching for something over the web. This tempted me to visit Orkut and have a sneak into its features and interface. It’s been four years since I stopped using Orkut and moved to Facebook. To be honest I was pretty impressed with the way Orkut has changed. They have finally got rid of all those colourful fonts and images. There is much more uniformity now. However, it cannot be compared to Facebook which seems to be much more organized and clear. On further digging into its features, I somehow felt that some of the Google Plus interface has evolved from Okrut. I guess you will flame me for this. So, I decided to point out some comparisons.
Navigation bars on top
As you can see in the above images, there are two bars placed almost the same way as in Orkut. The use of text has been minimized in the navigation bars in Google Plus. Instead of the email ID, the name is shown on the right hand side and a drop down menu is used with a gear icon.
The second bar in Google Plus has exactly the same placement as in Orkut, i.e; the logo, navigation and the search bar. Here the only difference is that Google Plus features pictured buttons navigation whereas Orkut has a traditional navigation bar. However, Google has introduced new features like Circles and Games and placed them here.
Left hand side column
Have a closer look at the left hand side column. Don’t you think it’s pretty much the same thing as Orkut? However, there are slight modifications. The profile picture size has been minimized; it’s more like an icon now in Google Plus. The ‘all updates’ and ‘my updates’ have been replaced by the word ‘stream’. The chat function is still placed on the left hand side. When you click on a friend, his/her chat box appears on the right hand side of your screen just like Orkut.
Right hand side column
Moving on to the right column, the first thing you’ll notice is that the column has been cut down to almost half its size. Friends are still presented in the right hand side column but with smaller icons thus making the layout clear. One weird change to be noted is the ‘send invitations’ box being moved from left hand side to right hand size with a nice looking email icon.
The Middle column
The middle column has been widened by reducing the space in the right hand side column as mentioned earlier. The middle column’s primary function is to show news feed (now known as stream) just like Orkut. Also, if you observe carefully, the presentation of feeds is almost like Orkut. The profile picture size and placement is followed by name, date and sharing details exactly like Orkut. To be honest, the middle column hasn’t innovated much! ‘Reply’ has been replaced by ‘Comment’, ‘Like’ by ‘+1’ and the only extra option you can see is ‘share’.
If the background was colourful and the columns were clearly defined and separated just like Orkut, you would definitely say, “Is this Orkut?”
So what’s Google + when compared to Orkut and Facebook?
Google learned from its mistakes and created an improvised version of Orkut with enhanced and innovative features and named it Google Plus. Google had ample of time to look into what Facebook is doing and what it is performing like. They used some of the features or added some new features which Facebook did not have and presented it in Google Plus. So, why did Google create a completely new social network and not modify Orkut? The answer is simple; Google did not want to continue with something which started receiving bad feedback and was interested to start off new. Moreover, users from Orkut had already moved to Facebook which was a major setback.
Here’s an Orkut new features video that I saw while visiting Orkut. If you carefully observe the video, the layout does not match the layout which is used at present. This video was made more than a year ago. So, I wonder if Orkut was used by Google as a testing platform for Google Plus or the features have not yet been introduced in Orkut?
Google Plus may look similar but is definitely much more powerful than Orkut and is different from Facebook. Circles and Hangouts are two interesting features in Google Plus that make it better than Facebook. Google Plus is still growing and will take some time to earn peoples admiration. In the near future, if new features like apps, fan pages, etc are introduced, it might get better response from users.
PS: If you are still looking for Google Plus invites then feel free to comment here, I’ll send you one.