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The layout has been given a complete makeover, both in the desktop version as well as in the apps.
The layout has been given a complete makeover, both in the desktop version as well as in the apps.

Google+ overhaul just isn’t enough

Google has given Google+ an overhaul, in the hope that its big subscriber base will become active users but it looks unlikely that users will convert

Google’s social network, called Google+ has been given an overhaul, in another attempt to make its mark in the social network ecosystem, where Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the undisputed leaders.

The layout has been given a complete makeover, both in the desktop version as well as in the apps. The focus of the redesign is on making the page lighter in terms of the visual elements, which will allow it to load faster on mobile devices such as tablets and hybrids. The interface looks much more organised with the navigation bar now sitting on the left of the screen instead of on the top of the page as in the earlier version. Clicking on any of these (Collections, Communities, Profile, People etc.) takes you to a separate landing page. The colour looks more subtle, and there is greater emphasis on photos, which load quicker now.

Apart from the neater and easier-to-navigate design, Google is betting on the Communities and Collections aspect of Google Plus, marking a departure from the usual social networking route where individual profiles mattered more.

Collections is a compilation of posts focused on a particular topic, something like how Pinterest does it. Every post on a trending topic will show up under the Collections. Users may create their own Collections, which their friends can easily find on the profile page.

Communities is a bit like Facebook’s Group feature, and it looks beautiful. Users can join existing Communities to share links, photos and posts with them, and comment on what others have posted. In the earlier version, there used to be the Hangouts chat feature, but that has now been removed. Users can create a private community which is open only to the members. For broader subjects and interests users can join public communities, which are listed and easily searchable.

Google has completely removed the Hangouts chat feature from Google+, which was integrated there earlier.

In the last few months, several Google services have been overhauled. Google’s Photos was separated from Google+ in May this year, to streamline the two separate services even more, because users weren’t really appreciating Photos being integrated with the social network. Google+ is now focusing more on communities and public sharing based on interests, than just posts like how we do it on Facebook.

Google+ has over 2 billion profiles, but the number of active users is actually much lower. That is because everyone who has a Gmail account automatically has Google+ account as well, but that doesn’t translate into actual users. Google attempted to push it on users by making it a preinstalled app on Android smartphones and tablets, but that really didn’t work either. And this is perhaps the search giant’s last hope at grabbing a pie of the ecosystem rival Facebook has pretty much monopolized. But the question really is, would Facebook users really bother making the switch? The changes have come too late, and are perhaps too little, to really make a difference in the long run.

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