Google is trying something new with Google+ in the hopes of breathing new life into the social network.
A few months after acknowledging it forced people to use Google+ and that it would strip Google+ integration from all its products (meaning it would no longer require you to have a Google+ account to use its products), Google has announced a major redesign for the oft-forgotten social network. That's right. Google+ has a fresh look as well as a shift in focus on core features.
Here's everything we know so far about the new Google+...
What's new with Google+?
Well, first of all, the website look different.
The social network now puts two features - Communities and Collections - front and center. But these changes aren't just apparent on the web; Google rebuilt Google+ across Android and iOS as well.
Why did Google+ get a redesign?
Here's how Google explained the decision to implement a redesign:
"We’ve spent a lot of time listening to what people using Google+ had to say. There were two features they kept coming back to: Communities, which now average 1.2 million new joins per day, and Collections, which launched just five months ago and is growing even faster... And so we’ve reimagined Google+ to help them do that. 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."
What are Communities and Collections?
Google+ lets people share common interests and meet new people, because it's a social network first and foremost. But what makes it different is that it gives people a gathering place - or a permanent home - to discuss all the stuff they love via Communities.
Communities offer either public or private membership and basically let you share topics and interests with other members, as well as support and discuss related categories, find relevant conversations, start hangouts, and plan events with other members, etc.
The video above explains Communities in more detail. You can also go to Google's Help Center for extra information.
Collections essentially lets you group your Google+ posts by topic, providing an easy way for you to organise and share all the things that interest you. Each collection can be shared publicly, privately, or with a custom set of people.
Once you create your first collection, your profile will display a new tab where other people can find and follow your collections. Also, posts in collections you follow will appear in your Home stream, with a link to dive into the collection.
How can you try the new Google+?
You can preview the new Google+ on the web today. Just sign in and click “Let’s go” when you see the prompt.
Google said not every feature of Google+ has made its way to the preview, but you'll be able to toggle back to the classic Google+ with one click (in the bottom left-hand corner) should you need to access other features. An update is also coming to the Android and iOS apps.