Last year, Google launched Google+ Sign-In, a button that sites can use to let users login with their Google+ accounts, which are essentially their Google accounts.
Google is now testing a button that drops the "+," encouraging users to simply "Sign in with Google".
The Verge reports that some developers implementing the old Google+ logins are seeing an option to add the new button, and has confirmed its authenticity with the company, who simply said, "We are always testing things."
Naturally, this is adding more fuel to the fire of stories indicating that Google+ is dying or being phased out as a product. That doesn't exactly make them true, but it's one more thing for people to point to.
First off, this is just a test, and Google conducts many of them that don't see the light of the day. Secondly, this new version of the button actually makes more sense than the old Plus-branded button, simply because there is a substantial amount of people that don't care about Google+ and never will. There are far more that care about Google, so why bother making the average Google user think it's all about Plus? It won't be surprising in the least if this does in fact become the real button.
That still doesn't signal the death of Google+, the social destination. Why should it? The branding of a button that enables you to log in to a completely different site with the same exact account shouldn't have any effect on people using Google+ to share and consume content, and engage with the community. It simply makes logging in on these other sites more appealing to more people.
Just how much phasing out of Google+ Google will do remains to be seen, but so far, the company has officially said that it's not changing its strategy. A specific Googler later said that no team members would even be moving, directly contradicting the reports of Google+'s pending demise.
Another interesting thing about this potential login button rebranding is that Google+ Sign-In is actually gaining momentum. A recent report from Janrain found that in Q1, Google+ accounted for 38% of social logins compared to Facebook's 42%. The next biggest was Yahoo at 8%, followed by Twitter at 5%. Google+ actually overtook Facebook for B2B sites. This graph from the report shows Google+ logins trending up with Facebook trending down:
It's entirely possible that dropping the + from the button could send Google's share up even quicker, but it's interesting to see this supposed "ghost town" of a network driving so many third-party website logins.
For what it's worth, Guy Kawasaki, who wrote a book about Google+, did a reddit AMA on Tuesday, and said, "I still believe that Google+ will end up being the biggest social-media service when all the dust settles."
Image via Janrain