If you’re on Google+ you may have noticed a little box at the lower left of your screen which offered you to connect your G+ circles with your list of chat contacts. The idea behind this is that people who are mutually connected (circled one another) can now see the other ones online status and start a chat with them.
That’s a pretty nice feature and here’s why this is a great improvement compared to other chats like the Facebook chat.
The comfort of selecting either all or just specific circles that are allowed to be in your chat list makes it pretty easy to get in touch with people from your Stream and yet being able to be in control over who appears in your list of chat contacts and who doesn’t. For example if you like to keep your chat rather private you simply enable those circles of your acquaintances and loved ones, leaving all those other circles unchecked and therefore out of your chat.
If you get to know a few more people who you’d like to have in your chat you either enable that circle, too, or if you don’t want the complete circle but one or another person you just create a new circle i.e. “Additional Chat Folks” and drag the people in there.
There is just one downside I can think of at the moment and that is the default setting of this feature. By default all your circles are enabled for chat and so are newly created circles. I was a bit shocked at first when my chat list kind of exploded but once you disable those circles you’re interested in following / reading you’ll have a nice and clean list.
Another benefit is that these contacts will of course be available wherever you find the GTalk plugin, i.e. GMail.
Being able to know why people appear in my chat list is a huge advantage towards the chat you’ll find on Facebook since I always wonder what mechanism there decides who appears in that list. I can’t skip people off that list I don’t to see there so I ended up simply de-activating FB chat once and for all.
Controlling the list via circles is a great improvement.