Google has had a very hard go of breathing new life into its social network, universally underappreciated due to the poor policy choice to force users to register to use external services and buffeted as it was by the competition being unable to break into the league of Facebook. All this has led to the refocusing of the service in a new, totally different edition of Google Plus focused mainly on interacting in thematic communities and slightly sidelining its use as a social network for family and friends.
It was a losing battle from the start, although that fact was hidden behind phantom user numbers talking about some 2 billion registered profiles, although a lot of them created their accounts automatically just by having a Google account. But you can’t sustain a service of this breadth with press releases, so they had to backtrack by unlinking Google Plus from the Photos app and allowing its complete removal from Android devices without any knock-on effects on Google apps. The new perspective is clearly explained on the official Google blog:
[…]Today, we’re starting to introduce a fully redesigned Google+ that puts Communities and Collections front and center. Now focused around interests, the new Google+ is much simpler. And it’s more mobile-friendly—we’ve rebuilt it across web, Android and iOS so that you’ll have a fast and consistent experience whether you are on a big screen or small one. You’ll need to opt-in to this new version of Google+ on the web to see the changes—check out our Google+ post for more on how to give it a try.
In the end what they’ve done is listen to user recommendations and complaints. If you haven’t already abandoned Google Plus completely you’ll have noticed that in recent months its use has been relegated to functioning as the official page for certain themed groups, especially tech-related ones. Lots of developers use Google Plus pages as their official websites, with a space for notifications and user feedback on their app development process. With this idea in mind Google has powered up the Communities, which these days are practically the center of the experience, and given greater visibility to the Collections, which differ from the former in that they are thematic channels administered by several users. Like a subreddit, basically.
The usual stuff is all still there: circles, your wall, and the post system, but although these were good ideas in terms of managing contacts, it makes more sense to use them for professional or thematic uses rather than to as a social organizer for your friends. But as they try to make us understand, you have to change your ‘chip’ in your approach to using this new Google+.