Last night I saw the announcement for Google Spaces, which they are pushing as a messaging application for small groups. Their goal seems to be to shift from conversations grouped by contacts with multiple topics of discussion into the inverse, where the topic stays static and the people join. It's a decent idea, but I have to wonder why they wouldn't add it to a myriad of other applications they have that do messaging (Hangouts).
Group sharing isn’t easy. From book clubs to house hunts to weekend trips and more, getting friends into the same app can be challenging.
The problem with their approach is highlighted by their opening statement. I have friends that are content with iMessage, or Hangouts, or just plain old text messages. It's hard enough to get people to change how they do an every day task like texting when there isn't a buy off from a large portion of that groups friends. I can't imagine a situation where I'm with a group of friends and we start discussing something trivial like a movie. "Hey guys, lets continue the conversation, but first download this app. Then sign in and let me invite you."
The main reason several people I know use Hangouts is because it came pre-installed on Android for some time. I use it mainly for communication with a group of friends immediate familiarity with. I've never been able to assume that someone uses Hangouts.
Google has a pretty good track record with me though. I tend to enjoy most of the things they make public, even if they tend to be killed off. I decided to give Spaces a shot.
My first impression was "this is going no where." I don't have a group of friends that's into technology nearly as much as I am, and I might be able to get immediate family to buy off on special case usage with only me.
Then I remember this is Google, and I love what they did with the search features of Google Photos. Being able to search things like "beach guy with hat" and getting a picture from years ago that would take me a longer than merited time to find is awesome. So, why not use Google Spaces to do the same. The original intention may not get off the ground immediately, and while it may one day, I can create an index of photos by creating a space by topic, and then posting conversations under those topics. With those conversations I am able to post nonsensical sentences, essentially tags, allowing me to later search for those strings. A meme database perhaps?
Other use cases
Awesome. Spaces seems perfect for this. I also use a website called Lifecake for pictures of my child. It works, and is okay for showing pictures to family members, and I typically upload the "best" photos there, not the same you'd typically find in a private family photo book.
With Spaces, I'm able to create a space with my wife and we can both share pictures to that. We can also share gift ideas and really anything pertaining to a specific topic. I like the idea for that, and I can "strong arm" my wife into adopting it. She doesn't really like to follow me on technology willingly, but often buys off once the obvious use cases present themselves. She'd still use candles if someone didn't make her use electricity.
For now you can post URLs, YouTube videos, images or videos, or plain text posts. I suppose you could hotlink directly to resources, but in the future it would be nice to be able to link to things from Inbox/GMail, or Google Drive, or link to PDFs. Being able to create an itinerary of sorts would be beneficial, or keeping track of bills or projects.
Give Google Spaces a try. If you have a group of friends that you think you could get involved in the application, I think it has great usage potential. Organization and topic driven discussion, similar to a forum, has a place in some cases.