Google+ may never be a Facebook killer, but great features are making it an increasingly comfortable place to hang out. Our friends at ReadWrite share how to make the most of this social network.
By Nick Statt
Since its makeover in May, Google+ has been steadily winning a war of aesthetics over Facebook, which has yet to roll out its redesigned News Feed to all users.
While a visual overhaul is a great way to draw in users who have long neglected the mandatory social component of the Gmail address, Google+ has yet to succeed at making some of its new, highly powerful features more noticeable.
To the average person who may only casually use Google+, it's a better-looking yet more empty social hub when compared with its competitors. When taking into account the ways in which Google+ is in fact a richer, more discussion-based and interactive experience, the social network begins to look like a far better place to spend one's time online.
Luckily, these somewhat lesser-known features are not at all hidden, but do take a bit of explaining. Here's three of the best Google+ has to offer today.
Hashtags: Google+'s Discussion Discovery Feature
Facebook made a splash last month with the debut of its own hashtags offering, mostly because it was yet-another move aimed at beefing up its discovery offering with features that have worked wonders for other services.
But while hashtags are synonymous with Twitter and the trending war between it and Facebook, Google+ has in fact had the hashtag feature since last year. The important question is: is there any more utility with Google+ hashtags than you get on other platforms? It turns out that yes, there is, for a number of reasons.
Most importantly, what makes Google+'s hashtag option not only easier and more elegant to use, but more functionally powerful as well, is the fact that clicking a hashtag does not take you away from the page and away from what made you click in the first place, as it does with both Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks to a neat element that came packaged with the design revamp effort rolled out at Google I/O, clicking one of up three displayed hashtags flips the card around within the same page and displays other stories from across the network. Cycling through brings you to other similarly hashtagged posts and finally gives you the option to jump into a fully organized trending page for whatever topic you've selected.
That's not all. Google+ posts, unlike Facebook and Twitter, are all editable. That means you can add hashtags later or replace the current batch with new ones. That's especially useful considering Google automatically tags some posts, which is a great feature that occasionally doesn't employ the most specific tag possible. But with edit, you can replace the autotags with your own.
How Google+ lets you get GIF-fy with social networks after the jump.