Google Plus Revamp: Where’d That Come From?
“Toward a simpler, more beautiful Google” – These are the words used by Google to explain why a total revamp to Google Plus was rolled out today. With all the Facebook + Instagram news and other social media buzz lately, Google Plus has kind of fallen by the wayside newswise. Well, Google was not havin’ that, so now we have a new Google Plus. I’m not sure if I love it or hate it. What do you think?
Maybe this revamp frightened me at first because it totally came out of nowhere. I was NOT expecting to sign in and experience something totally different. Now, when you sign into your account, Google Plus is shoved in your face – you simply cannot ignore it. Before, I could continue on my way easily, never pressing that “+Amie” button in the top left corner unless I was prepared to go on Google Plus and check out what all the recent tech news was. Now, I’m confronted with it whether I choose to be or not! And while I’ll admit I’ve never been much of a fan of change, I think that this particular one was the right move by Google, in most ways.
Check out what I saw when I first signed in:
Google Plus’s new interface both overwhelmed and frightened me at first. However, when I adjusted to it, I realized that I kind of like where the list of trending topics ends up. I also like how simple this new navigation is, and I kind of love the whole simple design. But I don’t love that it is the first thing I see when I sign in. When I’m just quickly trying to check my email, this is distracting!
Notice the options for what to do on Google Plus are now set up in a ribbon on the left of the screen. You can change the orders of these options by dragging them, or you can even hide some of them if you don’t use them often. Also, by hovering over some of these apps, you can see some quick actions that take you where you want to go quickly. Google adds (also throwing in that Google Plus has around 170 million users) that the following features were also added: “Full bleed photos and videos that’ll make you really proud to post, a stream of conversation “cards” that make it easier to scan and join discussions, an activity drawer that highlights the community around your content.”
Google also notes some hangouts changes, which definitely sound amazing in theory, but will they actually be used?: “An always-updated list of invitations from the people in your circles, Quick access to every public and On Air hangout, for those times when you want to meet someone new, or watch a live broadcast, A rotating billboard of popular hangouts, pro tips and other items you don’t want to miss.” Maybe these changes will turn hangouts into a feature that is regularly used by users, rather than a cool perk that is excellent in theory but not so much in practice.
Also new: an “Explore” page, which shows what is trending (basically, it just segments the “What’s hot”; section so that it becomes something entirely on its own), and a chat list that “puts your friends front and center.”
This is the new “Explore” section.
But OMG– the MOST notable change is on our profiles! Now we have cover photos?!
This is just a blatant Facebook feature copy. It doesn’t get any more blatant than that! There’s definitely something to giving the people what they want, even what they’re used to (it’s the new normal over at Facebook), but what about creating a DIFFERENT experience?
Even though I have a few complaints, mostly driven by my utter surprise – the design overhaul of Google Plus actually betters the social experience on the platform. It’s cleaner, more interactive, and definitely prettier to look at. But cover photos? Come on, Google! That kind of sucks the originality out of the whole change, in my opinion.
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