Facebook is always in trouble over new features. Mainly because it rolls out new products & features without telling anyone, and lots of people feel as though their privacy has been infringed (often this is fair, though).
Google+ has rolled out a feature that Facebook is treading very carefully around – face recognition. Instead of voluntarily tagging your photos, even on other peoples’ photo collections, the system itself will know that this is your face and tag you accordingly. This is the same system that exists in iPhoto – which can create albums of photos based on whos face is in there. The more you tag a face manually, the easier the system will find it to tag automatically.
Facebook wanted to roll it out behind the scenes and have it work away without much hooplah. Unfortunately privacy was a huge concern and they had to change the way they were going to roll it out.
Google+ may be getting away with all of the extra hooplah because it’s iterating its product after Facebook has already done the damage. I reckon a lot of it is down to the way Google+ tells users about the feature. It doesn’t use the words “product”, “feature”, “roll out” or anything that might scare the average user (even though G+ is comprised mainly of the elite nerd classes right now, or so it seems) but even more than that, it has a nice UI overlay that pops up. It calls the product “Find my Face” and reminds you, even in the overlay, that you can disable it later in settings – with a link directly to settings. It has a nice big blue button to turn it on, and a grey cancel button – making it more attractive to go ahead with the transaction.
It’s a very Apple-esque thought process to UI design. Make the user feel aware, comfortable and fully knowledgable on what’s going on. But always, always offer a way out right from the start.
It’s things like this that make me feel like Google are playing the perfect pitch with G+. Slowly but surely, everything they do is more considered, better designed and more user friendly in a lot of cases. Find my Face is not a new feature. The market is already mature to the idea, but being better informed about it is a nice touch for most users.
Apple does the same thing all the time. Wait for the market to mature a little before launching a product/service, then just be better at doing that one thing.