Google+ redesign takes inspiration from rivals

Thu 12th of April 2012, filed under Design

Google+ redesign proves controversial

Google+ has been given a controversial facelift that borrows heavily from other social networks.

Since last summer's launch, Google+ has received plenty of sign-ups thanks largely to heavy cross-promotion from other Google products and the ease with which users of services such as Gmail can register at the click of a button - the company claims more than 170 million have already joined. However, it has struggled to persuade these users to spend time onsite or engage with other users. This revamp looks to address that problem by seemingly taking inspiration from Facebook, Twitter and Chatroulette.

Familiar Google+ features

A number of the Google+ redesign features will already be familiar to social media fans:

  • Cover photos - users can now add cover photos to the top of their profile pages - an idea that was one of the main innovations on the new Facebook timelines
  • Trending topics - users can now view topics and hashtags that are trending across Google+, just like on Twitter
  • Dynamic apps - users can reorder and hide apps from the main navigation, similar to Facebook timelines
  • Private live video chat - users can now view a dedicated Hangouts page that offers more opportunities to live video chat with friends, which might be seen as a direct challenge to the linkup between Facebook and Skype
  • Public live video chat - users can now join any public and On Air Hangout to talk to strangers online, in an idea popularised by Chatroulette

Interestingly, Vic Gundotra, senior vice president at Google, also indicated that the Google+ redesign was part of a wider move to redesign the company's products. He said: "By focusing on you, the people you care about, and the stuff you're into, we're going to continue upgrading all the features you already know and love - from Search and Maps to Gmail and YouTube. With today's foundational changes we can move even faster - toward a simpler, more beautiful Google."

But Tom Glass, creative director at theEword, is unconvinced by the changes. He said: "The updated design for Google+ is long overdue but it doesn't look as if they've done much more than borrow features from established social networks. If Google really wants to boost engagement, it needs to come up with innovative ideas and roll them out before the competition."

The following official Google video shows the main changes on the Google+ redesign:

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