Google has announced an overhaul of the Google+ interface. The rollouts began this week, and the changes are designed to be more customizable, more social, and more visual. It also offers a new interface for Google+’s breakthrough – but underused – service, Hangouts.
Navigation is the most obvious and dramatic change. Instead of function buttons framing the top left corner, the buttons for your Google apps – your profile, photos, hangouts, etc.— populate a “navigation ribbon” along the left, where users can drag-n-drop app icons. It’s a Google-simple version of the iOs app shelf.
A mouse-over reveals an app icon’s functions. Dragging app icons off the navigation ribbon will automatically drop it into the “…MORE” section. The ability to add, remove, customize your personal favorites and most-used Google+ features is designed to coax longer interaction.
The Twitter-like trending box in the upper right feeds into the Explore page, where users can see what’s going on throughout the entire network.
Emphasis on Photos and Videos, Hangouts
According to Google, much of the overhaul was designed to “make sharing more evocative.” One area that got lavished with attention was videos and photos. More screen real estate is dedicated to them. There was an emphasis on sharing from anywhere on Google, including YouTube and Google search.
The dedicated Hangouts page features a rotating list of current and popular hangouts, from pros and from your circles. Hangouts – like buffed-up conferencing — are still used primarily by tech-y and nerdy types, as is most of the Google+ network. The page hopes to make Hangouts more accessible to everyone else.
No one can deny that Google+ is thoughtfully designed. It was partly a matter of reaching out to a different type of user, namely, everybody.