July 17, 2012 | By:

Introducing Google+ Events

Google officially launched its answer to invitation sites like Evites and Eventbrite

As with any new platform, Google+ Events has pros, cons, and a handful of bugs to work out.

The Pros

Google+ Events offers a clean, easy-to-use interface with the ability to make invites look ultra-snazzy with “cinemagraphic” themes or video messages. And, invitees don’t have to be Google+ users – anyone can be invited via e-mail. Google+ Events also integrates fully with Google Calendar, allowing the user to plug the event directly into his or her schedule.

These are all nice features, but the significant advantage of Google+ Events over other platforms is the fact that it doesn’t outlive its usefulness the moment the event starts. Once the shindig is in progress, it switches to “Party Mode”, and Google+ mobile app users can stream updates, photos and videos live from the event.

The Cons

While guests don’t have to be Google+ users to receive an invitation to an event, they will need to have a Google+ account to stream and be tagged in photos while the event is in “Party Mode”. Given that Google+ has a relatively small user base (about 250 million versus Facebook’s 900 million), and an even smaller active user base, it’s unclear what level of guest engagement Google+ Event users can expect.

The Bugs

Shortly after launch, it became apparent that Google had not given quite enough thought to Google+ Events’ privacy settings. Basically, users could send out invites to anyone (regardless of whether they were in the invitee’s circles), and the event would automatically show up on that user’s calendar, even if the invitation had not been accepted. The result – lots of spammy events showing up on users’ calendars.

This glitch was very publicly called out by Wil Wheaton, a Google+ power user with more than 1 million people in his circles, who was understandably perturbed at having his Google Calendar hijacked. Google says it has now rolled out fixes for these issues, and there have been no other high-profile tongue lashings since the initial launch.

Another potential issue involves party-goers forgetting to switch off the “Party Mode” feature, meaning photos they take will still stream to the site until the end time the event’s creator has designated the party to end. So, if you forget to turn off Party Mode, the creator doesn’t end the event until the next day, and someone has used your phone to snap photos of you after you passed out and were decorated with Sharpies – well, you get the picture.

Initially, Google+ Events looks promising for users, as well as Google. If this feature catches on, it may prove to have been a smart move by Google to capture those elusive active user numbers.

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