Google has rolled out a surprise major redesign of the internet giant's Google+ social networking service, welcoming users with a interactive tour of the new interface.
Announcing a "more functional and flexible version of Google+" that has so far attracted 170 million people, Google said it was "still early days" for the social network. The company described the redesign as part of efforts to create a "simpler, more beautiful Google."
The design is certainly more pretty than Google's trademark bland but functional design. The major change involves a ribbon of applications on the left side where each application can be dragged to a position the user wants.
One use niche that Google+ has excelled at is in attracting photographers. One recent initiative for a collaborative 'photo walk' in Australia has been called the largest collaborative photo shoot in history. The new Google+ design introduces larger images.
Another core change is a renewed focus on Twitter-like 'trending' hashtags and the presentation of an instant messenger bar down the right side. The new design also puts Google+ Hangout live video invitations front and centre.
"By highlighting all the hangouts you can join, all over the world, it’s now easier to spend time together—even be there for each other," said Google engineering chief Vic Gundotra.
The new design hasn't been a universal success, however, with a number of users peeved about the introduction of whitespace between the left-side content and the right-side contacts bar. Google will be unlikely to miss such feedback given that #whitespace is currently a top five trending hashtag.
Fortunately there's a simple Chrome extension to resize the content stream to remove the whitespace although we'd hazard that it will be obsolete very soon.