Google+ has been officially demoted. Today, Google announced that an account on its flailing social network is no longer required to log in to any of Google’s connected services. Over the next few months, “a Google Account will be all you’ll need” to do things like post YouTube videos and upload pictures to Google Photos. Not a Google+ account, just a Google Account.
What's more, comments posted on YouTube will only appear there, and comments posted on Google+ videos will only appear on Google+. With this, Google is finally addressing one of the biggest complaints generated by its previous push to make Google+ the center of all things.
Google+ will still exist, though it’ll mostly serve as an open forum of sorts where people can “engage around their shared interests," whatever that means. The company said it will also continue to add new features to Google+ to keep in line with that focus.
The story behind the story: Google finally took notice of the usage patterns of Google+. “People have told us that accessing all of their Google stuff with one account makes life a whole lot easier,” wrote Google’s Bradley Horowitz, VP of Streams, Photos, and Sharing. “But we’ve also heard that it doesn’t make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you use.”
Horowitz is right: it doesn’t make sense for your public Google+ profile to also be your identity everywhere else—especially if you don’t plan to use Google+ at all. Google’s been splitting services like Photos and Hangouts into their own standalone features for a while now, and thankfully it’s done the same for its social network.
A long time coming
I remember when Google+ launched. I was intrigued by it. I uploaded a ton of photos to my new profile. I even tried using it to blog for a while. I’d hoped Google+ would be the answer to Facebook’s ever-changing landscape; that it’d be a refuge from all the suburban rants and outdated memes clogging up my other social networking feeds. But after about two months, I just stopped using it altogether.
It’s been about four years and I still have no idea what purpose my Google+ profile serves. I use it to log in to services like TripIt and post Stories once in a while, but otherwise, I continue to do all of my social networking elsewhere. Even with all the communities I’ve joined, it still feels like a barren wasteland.
I’m glad Google has finally spoken up about what it’s planning to do with Google+. We’ve been waiting to hear about it since Vic Gondotra left last year. It was like Google was fighting the inevitable fate of Google+; that it didn’t want to distill it down to “just another social network.”
It's probably a good thing for users that Google finally gave in, though. For me, Google+ is a place for Android developers and big time Google executives to wax poetic about the future of the industry. It’s a place to share that link you would rather share to Facebook, but you’re too afraid because of the ideological differences between you and the people in your “real life.” For me, it’s okay that this is what Google+ has become, because I needed something like that for my online life. And now that Google’s embraced it, and is cutting out all the other stuff, I feel like I can finally say, “I know why Google+ exists.”
This story, "Google has finally figured out what to do with Google+: Downsize it" was originally published by Greenbot.