Google is simplifying and reorganizing its social networking arm, Google+, to create a more customizable experience. The Internet giant announced in its blog Wednesday that it is rolling out several new features this week: from customizing apps and the navigation bar to to bigger focuses on pictures and other media content. This update also brings on a fund functionality called Explore -- this allows users to see what people around the world are sharing and video-chatting about with trending topics -- so you don't have to be friends with these people to see what the discussions are about.
Some of these new features are defiantly exciting, and with more than 170 million people that have upgraded and created a Google+ account, there was a need for more customizing and exploration. It's hard not to draw comparisons between some of these new options and what Facebook and Twitter have been doing for a while now. The photo-centric focus clearly has Facebook Timeline written all over it, and the explore feature is quite a Twitter inspiration.
But part of the new exploration includes a chat forum where people can see the public video chats going on globally and will allow people to more easily listen and join in on conversations on a variety of topics -- which can be a powerful tool in the social and education environments.
I find the new navigation bar to be much cleaner and easier to work with as a side ribbon that includes the ability to drag apps up or down to create the order you want, scroll over to reveal a set of quick actions, and hide lesser used apps for a cleaner looking screen.
As Google+ strives to keep the attention of the easily distracted social networking population, it has inarguably created a great service with great features, but it is always a challenge to pull people away from their preconceived notions of Google+ being so desolate and removed from the habits of logging into Facebook or signing into Twitter so it still seems like a long road ahead for the service as people try to figure out what their motive is on the site.