Dear Facebook, I have been cheating on you. It was completely unintentional and I can explain everything…sort of.

This week I finally got my invite to Google+. I had been waiting, wanting to dive in and better understand this shiny new toy that everyone is talking about. This week I got a chance to satisfy my initial curiosity and better understand this new gadget.

I fumbled some in the beginning until I figured out the interface. I found that it got a bit more interesting as I started understanding how to add people to circles. It's been fun to find Ashton Kutcher or Michael Dell and add them to my circle of 'Inspirational People'. In this new social tool, I don't need to be connected to close friends to get content going. I already know this could be addictive.

Here's a deeper dive into a few of the features I found interesting…there are many more yet to discover:

  • Circles: Circles seems to be a hybrid of friending and following that seems difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's cool. You can put anyone in a Circle, and they can choose to reciprocate or not. The interface is easy and very dynamic. Drag a user here. Drop them there. Put them in multiple groups. The animations for creating, deleting and modifying Circles are also easy to use and fun. Very cleverly designed. It also allows for communication streams to be far more organized than on Facebook. While the 'group' feature exists in Facebook and is similar to Google +, Google has definitely mastered the art of making it extremely user friendly.
  • Stream: The stream ' essentially the Google + version of a Facebook news feed ' pulls in information from posts made by people in your circles. You, or anyone following you, can also give your personal endorsement, the +1, to any post or comment. Similar to the 'like' button. Aesthetically, it's a big step up from the News Feed. One of the best features for me was the ability to sort your stream by Circles to see posts only relevant to work or to catch up on the latest news from your friends, etc. Again, bit confusing until you get used to the interface, but highly addictive thereafter.
  • Hangout: I personally have yet to try this feature, but from what I understand it is super cool. The functionality will allow users to post the hangout to their circles and your friends in that circle will be able to join the hangout which is basically a video conference for multiple people. I believe it will be interesting to see how this actually unfolds within the Droid and the iPhone app interface. Could this be a significant VOIP play in the future?
My first few days with Google Plus have been addictive. I'm not certain when the 'shiny new toy' syndrome will wear off, but for now Google + was fun to use and has a lot of potential. I could see using it in addition to Facebook, but until Google weaves more of their existing services into G+ and I can integrate more of the people I know, it won't become my main way to socialize online.

Facebook, can we still be friends?