Google+ has had a bad rep over the years and yes it has been years. 5 years in fact. Despite stories to the contrary, it has remained and has been actively developed by Google. Google must be fairly confident they have a good product, because the open beta for the new and improved Google+ has just become opt out, instead of opt in. Also it is now officially a core product for Google Apps for Work.
So what has changed over the intervening months?
A lot is the answer. Barely a week has gone by without some announcement or other regarding updates to the web preview and the Android and iOS apps. Lots of feedback has been given and it seems Google are listening. For instance, as part of the latest announcement, a much needed improvement for community moderators has been released. Posts can (if the mods choose) appear in a queue for review, which happens to be an excellent way to combat spam. Facebook already does this, so it is good to see Google+ catching up at last.
Comments are also getting a boost, in the form of images. Now you can upload a photo or an animated gif right inside the comments and if you post a link, you have the option to include an image preview too. I know a lot of people have been clamouring for this, so they will most definitely be happy. No nested comments yet, but we can’t have everything can we?
Notifications are getting an overhaul too and now have their own page. Previously the new G+ was only using the classic notifications via Mr Jingles (you will know what I mean if you use any of Google’s products), which are in fact still there at the moment.
These are just the most recent and more obvious changes to the new G+, but there have been many more. Way too many to list here in fact. The question a lot of people are probably asking right now, is why are Google doing this? Wasn’t the old or should I say ‘classic’ Google+ good enough?
Well the truth is the classic G+ was good enough, for what it was originally intended to do. That was fine 5 years ago, this is now and the emphasis has changed and therefore so has Google+. For example, Events are conspicuous by their absence in the new G+. Instead the shining stars of the platform are Collections and Communities. The line goes like this. Google+ brings people together, by making sharing and discovering great content easy. You can of course look at it another way. The classic Google+ had a lot to offer, but that meant there was also a lot to look after. By refocusing and stripping away the things that don’t matter to the new vision, Google engineers and developers can concentrate on making what is there really good.
My opinion is that it is really good. It is why I can be found most days visiting Google+ to the exclusion of the other social networks. Don’t get me wrong, if all you want to do is hook up with friends and family and see their latest holiday snaps, then you may want to stick with Facebook. If you want to find news, inspiration, learn about particle physics or some other esoteric subject and converse with people from all over the world, then Google+ may well be the answer.