Google has announced that is and will be changing the way Google+ displays information on its social networking site which was created to compete head on with Facebook. RedOrbit says the changes have been coming for a while as Google has been listing to customer complaints about ease of use compared to Facebook. Mail Online adds that most reviewers thus far have given the new look a strong thumbs up.
According to the announcement, the biggest change will be the addition of a new navigation ribbon running down the left side of the page. It will have icons allowing users to activate the most common features on the site, which should make navigation much easier. Google says the changes should not only help new users adapt to the system but they will allow for new options to be added over the next few months, though they wouldn’t say what those might be.
Mail Online notes that Google has also added a cover photo, similar to what Facebook has had all along, and that the “circles” that are so much a part of the site have been pulled back so as to be less of a major feature though Google says they are not removing them from the site altogether.
Google also notes in the announcement that over 170 million people have now signed up for the service, but doesn’t mention how long they stay. RedOrbit does, suggesting that industry reports put average visit times at several minutes, compared to several hours for Facebook.
Other changes announced by Google include making it easier to center conversation threads around posts, again, very similar to the way things are done in Facebook. Also, the Hangouts feature is also more highly visible, likely a response to the number of users that have been creating apps that allow users to do things like play card games or draw pictures together. Google is also adding an Explore feature that helps users follow popular topics or begin threads of their own.
Mail Online notes that Google+ has become very popular with photographers who like being able to create circles with like-minded people who can then offer critiques of each other’s work, but at the same time says that Google still has a very long way to go to catch up to Facebook’s 700 million users, and hints that it’s not sure if Google is up to the task. This because by making changes in Google+ that very nearly mimic Facebook, Google is acknowledging that they really have nothing new or innovative to offer which means users have very little incentive to change from the social networking site they already know and love.