You may remember a few years ago when Google+ attempted to compete with Facebook as a social website. Google branded their social initiative as the next big sharing site in which Google.com would finally be personalized. Their attempt at competition has not yet met expectations.
But Google’s social experiment isn’t dead yet. In fact, the technological giant, hard at work with many new and cool advancements, is squaring up for another attempt at capturing our attention with a few exciting social updates.
During the nearly four years of Google+’s existence, there has been a number of people in charge — each attempting to replicate something similar to Facebook and each of them calling it quits. Along the way, many people, and even employees of Google, criticized their direction. Hashtag inventor and former Google employee, Chris Messina, said Google “missed their opportunity” on creating a social platform in a rather profane blog post.
“Lately, I just feel like Google+ is confused and adrift at sea. It’s so far behind, how can it possibly catch up?” — Chris Messina
What is Google+ Up to Now?
Bradley Horowitz took over recently as the leader of the social network. His first approach at creating a more social site has been the release of Google Photos and Stream, which are standalone products that can serve their design purposes rather than one application tasked with doing everything, i.e. Google+.
“Just wanted to confirm that the rumors are true — I’m excited to be running Google’s Photos and Streams products! It’s important to me that these changes are properly understood to be positive improvements to both our products and how they reach users.” — Bradley Horowitz, Google
When asked about Google+, Horowitz replied in an interview that “Google+ is not dead,” and further explained that it is being rethought and will change considerably.
And to prove this, Collections, which was introduced a few weeks ago, is a new feature aimed at organizing common interests among users and encourages discussions based on those interests. Additionally, users can either subscribe to other people or brands based on what they find interesting, and uncheck what they don’t find interesting. For example, and as Martin Beck explains in the video, “you can follow Buzzfeed, but you don’t have to follow their cat memes.”
“We’re looking at what the users are telling us Google Plus is good for, and doubling down on those uses. For instance, one particular use-case on Google Plus is people aligning around common interests. If I’m interested in astronomy and I want to meet other people interested in astronomy, we think we have a good solution—Collections.” — Bradley Horowitz
Another exciting update to Google’s social experiment is Google Photos — a place to store, organize and share all of your photos and videos. Google Photos can be downloaded on Android and Apple devices as well as computers. You can upload an unlimited amount of compressed pictures and videos and store them safely to your Photos drive at no charge. However, the quality of the images are compressed to 16 megapixels and 1080p resolution for videos. Full-resolution images can be saved for $10/month for one terabyte.
Additionally, you can create collages, stories, pic movies and animations based on selected photos. That is, if you’re not using the web to make your own memes. The search function is impressive as well, allowing you to search by keywords without ever tagging a photo. Facial recognition is quite outstanding, too, as it can even discover old and outdated pictures — even those pictures without a smile.
Last but not least is Google Stream. Google Stream is quietly being updated by Google developers in the hope of being a more utilized social feature, as opposed to an underused feature.
Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior VP of products, said during an interview, “In terms of the stream itself, based on the stats we see, we have a passionate community of users. We would definitely like to see more scale at what we do. The team is working on a few next generation ideas.” Though, these “next generation ideas” have, so far, been kept quiet. If the updates are anything similar to what is expected with Google Search, now would be the time to get excited.
“Google+ was always two things: a stream and a social layer.” — Sundar Pichai
What Do You Think of Google+?
Do you use Google+? Are you excited about these updates? Have you tried the Photos app? Or do you think Google+ is dead and gone? Tell us about it.