Right off the bat in the announcement, Gundotra pointed out two things that the powers-that-be at Google have wanted to get across for weeks now:
1) Google Plus is still still young; and there's plenty left to do.
2) Google Plus is not a static product; it is part of a "seamless social experience, all across Google."
After some rumblings of underwhelming performance and visit times rocked Plus's image a few weeks back, the Google team went on the offensive, stressing that their critics were comparing apples to oranges in pairing them up against Facebook. In the early days, Google Plus was heralded as a Facebook-killer, which has obviously not come to pass. But, in hindsight, that was never Google's claim.
Google Plus is another product that integrates with Contacts, Gmail, YouTube, et al to bring more usefulness to what you already do with Google, and maybe introduce you to things you had not heretofore used, like Picasa. If you get used to what Google does for you, it makes it that much easier to transition to an Android table or smartphone, to store your pics with Picasa rather than on Facebook. Google Plus was seen as "adult social", not necessarily replacing Facebook, but giving serious-minded people who still wanted to have interaction with others without the greasy kids's stuff.
Now with the new additions, Google has given Plus room to grow.
Now, with the new interface changes, Google is out to show that they are serious. From the Google blog:
One of the first things you’ll notice is a new way to get around the stream. Instead of static icons at the top, there’s a dynamic ribbon of applications on the left. This approach comes with lots of perks, but some of our favorites include:
* You can drag apps up or down to create the order you want
* You can hover over certain apps to reveal a set of quick actions
* You can show or hide apps by moving them in and out of “More”
Taken together, these powers make it easier to access your favorites, and to adjust your preferences over time. We've also built the ribbon with the future in mind, giving us an obvious (and clutter-free) space for The Next Big Feature, and The Feature After That. So stay tuned.
This update wasn't just about utilitarian functionality. Google is aiming to make things look better too. And why not? With Retina displays that feature richer content than the human eye can even discern, you'd better bring your A-game when it comes to how well your site presents photos and video. Google already has the market cornered with YouTube, so making things more presentable on Plus was a logical next step.
Also, how about making conversations easier to engage in? That would be a welcome addition. Google responds to those demands with features like these that make the experience more enjoyable and seamless:
* Full bleed photos and videos that'll make you really proud to post
* A stream of conversation "cards" that make it easier to scan and join discussions
* An activity drawer that highlights the community around your content
Hangouts are becoming all the rage. So, let's give those a dedicated page, including:
* An always-updated list of invitations from the people in your circles
* Quick access to every public and On Air hangout, for those times when you want to meet someone new, or watch a live broadcast
* A rotating billboard of popular hangouts, pro tips and other items you don’t want to miss
Ready for more? How about a newly-designed Profile page that takes a hint from Facebooks cover photos? It's a nice look, a combination of profile photo and cover pic. Here's mine.
Also mentioned were the Hangout Apps that are now possible thanks to the Hangouts API release. This redesign leaves room for those kinds of things to be added to your ribbon.
Learn more about the new Google Plus look here.