While Google+ is still around, Google’s stab at social media hasn’t taken off as hoped. Google’s been spinning off some of Google+’s successful features into stand-alone services, such as Photos, but is still keeping Plus itself around.
This week, Google has released its biggest change to date for Plus. The desktop site’s been revised to match Google’s “Material Design” mobile/Android look, plus place emphasis on the two most successful Google+ features: Communities and Collections. Communities are basically forums on various topics, and where most of the activity on Google+ resides. If you’re not part of a Community, it might be a reason Google+ looks like a “ghost town” (as some have joked). The forums tend to cover a wide range of topics (though more geeky ones), get fairly heavy use, and are well liked by their users. Meanwhile, Collections are basically just collections of posts and media, similar to Pinterest. Both features are being placed front and center in the revised Google+ interface; the other social media aspects of Plus (circles, etc.) are still around, but just less emphasized.
I tried out the new Google+ interface earlier today, and it does look more colorful/mobile-like on a desktop. Everything seemed to work well, and makes pleasant use of screen space. My Android mobile app hasn’t been updated yet, so I can’t say what there’s like.
No, Plus isn’t for everyone. The death grip that everyone clings onto Facebook with (while complaining endlessly about Facebook) shows Mark Zuckerberg’s social network isn’t going away anytime soon. That is, barring an unlikely major massive shift in public usage on par with MySpace’s fall from popularity. Still, the new Google+ revisions should please its dedicated user base.
I still like Plus; it’s less annoying and better designed than Facebook. There’s no curated feeds, unlike the “gold standard” of social networking, so everything I post can actually be seen by others. Unfortunately, technological superiority alone isn’t enough to sway the general public. For the general public, new tech needs to be similar in price or cheaper to what’s established, at least “good enough” quality, and convenient. See: Beta vs. VHS, Mac OS vs. Windows, the metric system vs. Imperial units (here in the US), electric vs. internal-combustion car engines, MP3/streaming audio vs. lossless music files, etc. Google+ matches the first two criteria, but since everyone’s friends and family still use Facebook (and apparently refuse to move to anything else), that hasn’t helped Plus. That said, Google+ doesn’t need to be a “Facebook killer,” just as Twitter doesn’t need to be.
Do you use Google+? Or have a favorite social network?