Thursday, 28 June 2012

First look: Google+ Events

Google have just launched 'Events' in Google+ and I think they have tons of potential.

So, what's a Google+ Event?  Well, it basically means that you can now schedule things like hangouts, manage invitations, set up a physical 'event' with a complimentary social online space to share photos / discussions / links etc in Google+... and best of all it links in beautifully with your Google Calendar.  You can also attach personalised video introductions - which could be a really great way to welcome a group of students to an event or provide a pre-course introduction for training purposes.  It could also be great for helping online group working... project work... arranging meetings with students... putting on hangouts for informal tutorials / Q&A sessions.

So... where to get started?

First of all... head over to Google+.

Creating an event in Google+
Then, click on the Events link you'll now see on the left hand menu.  Once you've done that... then you can either view existing events or create a new one by clicking Create Event.

Fill in the details for your event - be careful when you select the time here... it seems to be on 19:00 by default which isn't that practical for work-related stuff!  You can also add an end time too - again, a handy feature.  The best thing here is that because it's integrated with your Google Calendar, it's easy to find a time that suits you.  As an institution with Google Apps this makes it a really handy feature bringing together one of the core parts of Google Apps with Google+.

Editing your event in Google+
You can also set a theme for the event at this point - choosing one of the (very beautiful!) cinemagraph images that Google supply or choosing your own... then choose who you're going to invite.  Is it going to be 'everyone'... just people within the university domain... a particular circle... or just a couple of individuals?

One of the advanced features - but one which is particularly nice is that in event options and then advanced - you can choose to link to a YouTube video - which then embeds itself in the Event.  If you're wanting people to watch a screencast or video ahead of a hangout or face-to-face meeting then this is a great way of sharing it.

Then... just click on Invite and that's it.

Editing etc...

Delete an event via the 'Actions' dropdown menu
If you want to edit or generally manage your event then you can - at the top of events you've created, you'll see an 'Actions' dropdown menu.  Click on that and you can make the changes you need.  You can't edit an event from within your Google Calendar - but clicking on it there will link through to Google+ where you can make the changes.

Deleting events?
Yup, you can do that too - again, through the 'Actions' dropdown menu on the event itself.  Just drop it down and click on 'Delete this event'.

Scheduling hangouts?
Planning a scheduled hangout is easy with
Google+ events
One of the slight bugbears with hangouts has been the inability to manage them as you'd want to any other event, i.e. set a start and finish time.  With Google+ Events, you now get that choice.

When you create your hangout, instead of going to 'Hangouts' or creating a hangout from one of the usual places, click on 'Events' and on the right hand side you'll see a link to Plan your next hangout.

Click that, then set the times etc as you would with any other event, invite your participants and that's about it.  Easy!

What notification settings are there for Events?
Managing notification settings for events
There are a few - people can get email notifications when they're invited to an event, for event reminders or if there's activity on events too.  Now, for busy events these could result in an email avalanche, so just click on the settings cog towards the top right of Google+ and adjust notifications to suit there.

Tell me about 'Party mode'
This is a little tucked away, but basically it lets you share photos etc live from your mobile device.  Currently, this is only available on Android devices but they say it's coming to iPhone etc.  There's more detail on their website, so if this sounds worth a further look... then follow that link!

And that's what I've found out about Google+ Events so far!  It would be nice if you could create events direct from your Google Calendar, but the fact that they integrate at all is a brilliant step in the right direction.

Overall, I think these are a really nice feature and will be really interested to see what people do with them!


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