It's hard to believe, but Google's attempt at a Facebook replacement is now a year old. When Google+ was released in 2011, a number of people1 thought that it would be the place where tech-savvy people who were tired of Facebook would spend their time while the less inclined would continue to divulge their idiocy to Mark Zuckerberg and his henchmen. After twelve months of operation, this is partly true ... but Google+ is not the sole place for the tech-savvy to spend their time.
I would like to commend the Google+ development team for their efforts. It's not easy to create a network like this out of a bunch of disparate parts, but they've certainly burned the calories to make it happen. Their Hangout feature is still unique among social networks, and they've expanded on the concept of "Circles" in a number of smart ways. Adding the ability to share Circles being the most useful. The network will likely never supplant Facebook in the social space, but it doesn't really need to anymore. Google+ is better suited to people who, for better or for worse, prefer beta-level software. Why do I say this? It's simple, really. Google, despite the thousands of geniuses that walk its halls every day, does not grasp social media. As a result, there are a number of areas that they have implemented poorly, or not at all.
Google+ on a tablet has looked like ass from day one. For a company that has claimed to be focused on tablets and mobile devices for darn near 30 months, they sure know how to forget platforms. The iPad has been out for just under 30 months2, yet a half-decent application is just coming to it now. The same can be said about other mobile platforms outside of Android. Windows Phone, iOS, and webOS have all suffered from poor Google+ implementations. While that last platform is no longer relevant, one would think that the guys in Mountain View would have done more to ensure that anybody and everybody could access their services in a fun, consistent fashion.
How about APIs? How many services do you know that allow us to send updates to Google+? I can think of one off the top of my head, and it's called Google+. Google doesn't need to make absolutely everything available, but it would be nice to have the ability to push out updates or receive them in a similar fashion to Twitter, Facebook, Path, and just about every other social platform out there. Heck, for a company that claims to be "open" they sure leave a lot of things closed.
Account migration? Still waiting for that one. Seems people need to keep two separate accounts; one for home, and one for work. This stuff is not easy, but it shouldn't be impossible. Returning a half-million results for some completely random search query involving Smurfs, albino cucumbers, and four wax candles should be impossible. Google can do it in 0.0481 seconds, though3.
So while Google+ has come a long way since its initial rage-inducing days, it still has a number of areas that need some more improvement. Only time will tell how committed the company will remain to their beta social project4.