There is a running joke on the internet that joining Google Plus is like making your reservations in a reputedly busy restaurant weeks in advance, then finally going in to find that it is completely deserted, with no patrons and only a single waiter yawning and swatting at flies. While that is a somewhat exaggerated and unfair comparison, considering that Google Plus now claims to have over 170 million users (but take this with a pinch of salt, as it automatically includes all Gmail and Youtube account holders), I can see where it is coming from. By virtue of having a Google Mail account, I was automatically allotted a profile on Google Plus, but I can’t say I have ever really used it, as have very few of my friends.
Well, Google is all set to change this sorry state of affairs, with a truckload of new goodies for Google Plus that promise to make it a much happier social networking experience. The new features include enhanced navigation, revamped with drag and drop elements, and hover touch which lets you view actions as you move your cursor over each item.
In the new interface, the static icons are all grouped together at the top, and the navigation features, including Google Plus Hangouts, Circles, photos, and games, have been moved to a side. The user is allowed to change the order of the icons, and also to remove icons that they do not plan to use, simply by shunting them to the More icon, from which they can be retrieved if required. If you hover your mouse over these icons, related actions will appear, giving you relevant options.
Another new addition is the Explore icon, which takes you to the Explore page, where you can view popular content that is trending across the Google Plus network. The Newsfeed has been redesigned as well, with new features like full bleed photos and conversation cards, which make it easier for you to participate in discussions by demarcating every post and its relevant discussions from other posts. Yet another interesting feature lets you tidy up your photos and do minor editing on them before you share them with your family and friends, thus eliminating the need for you to open your photo editor before uploading.
Google Plus Hangouts have already gained a degree of popularity, so it comes as no surprise that Hangout features have also been honed. Hangouts are now better highlighted on your home page, and have a whole page dedicated to them. This page updates you about Hangout invitations from people in your circle, gives you access to the most public and happening Hangouts, and has a rotating billboard that shows favorite hangouts of your friends and other users.
You can also customise how much of the message feeds from each circle will be visible to you on your main feed. So you can ensure that you get every single feed from your family and close friends, and only some important feeds from acquaintances or colleagues.
Now the only eyesore in Google Plus remains the huge white space between the newsfeed and the list of friends. We can only speculate upon why Google won’t take it away, and whether they are planning to put ads into it. Right now, it looks a bit senseless.
Sadly, this new look will not be available to people who use google Plus on their smartphones or their tablets, it only extends to computer users. We hope Google Plus rectifies this, as a staggering percentage of their users are on phones and tablets.