Google+ Redesigns Its Stream To Include Multi- Column Google Now-Esque Cards, Auto-Hashtags And More

Posted: May 15, 2013 in Google, GT, Social
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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Google+, the social layer that Google introduced
almost two years ago, has evolved quite a bit since
its launch. Today, the company announced a
complete redesign, taking cues from the mobile
experience that has drawn positive feedback from
those who don’t even use the service. In total, Google has launched 41 new features for Google+, including
a completely revamped Photo product, Hangouts app
and the stream that people interact with on a daily
basis. There are currently 390M monthly active users over
the web and 190M directly on the stream. The stream changes will be familiar to Google+ users
on iOS and Android, but have a few new wrinkles.
The first noticeable item is the stream, which has
been given the three-column treatment that the iPad
version of the service presents so well. This is a huge
departure from the Twitter and Facebook feed approach, which presents everything in one column.
The multi-column design lets you scan items quicker,
rather than scrolling endlessly for something to
interact with. I sat down with Vic Gundotra, Senior Vice President
of Engineering at Google, and he walked me through
some of the new features. He was quick to point out
that Google’s new approach to “feeds” will bring more
attention to content: We’re fixing a longstanding problem with these feeds,
they’re flat. Other sites let you scroll through posts
that have been shared with you. You can’t go through
and read on more topics. You can’t go deeper on an
interest on topic. Just in case you haven’t used Google+ at all, or want
to see the quick contrast between the two designs,
here’s what the stream looked like before today,
complete with that awkward white space on the right: The toolbar has been simplified, looking like the
toolbar you see on search and every other property.
The days of left-hand navigation is gone, and good
riddance. You’ll also notice that pieces of content in the stream
stand out much more, and that’s because they’re
interactive “Cards” ala Google Now. One of the new
features of Google+ is that whenever you post a new
piece of content, it will automatically get a hashtag.
You can remove it if you like, but Google’s massive processing power goes to work to try and categorize
all of the content being shared: When you click the hashtag, the “card” will flip around
to help you discover similar content. In the example
of the Giants post, Gundotra showed me that Google
automatically figured out that the post was about
Buster Posey, since the company has deployed its
photo-recognition technology on posted items. The image shared with the Giants post is of Buster
Posey, naturally. By not taking you to a new stream
of content when clicking around, Gundotra says that
the context of what you’re interested in learning more
about is preserved. Another example of this automatic categorization is
this picture of the Eiffel Tower. Gundotra explained
that even though there was no text within the post
that stated the origin of the photo, Google was able to
figure out what it was, thus giving it the hashtag
#EiffelTower. Greyed out hashtags are the ones automatically assigned by Google, and blue ones are
the ones added by the sharer themselves: For content like photos and videos, they will get the
same treatment that they don on mobile, which is
spread across multiple columns: There are other interactive animations, like a bounce
when you share someone’s post. Again, these are
things that the Google+ mobile apps do well, and it’s
meant to get you more engaged within the stream. I’m
not sure if an animation will do that for me, but it’s fun
the first few times that you see it. From what I can gather, Google wants you spend
more time consuming information and less time
navigating a site. This new look, including Google’s
favorite new font, Robot, fits in with the design of
most of Google’s other products. This familiarity will
encourage people to pay more attention to the content, but not necessarily share more. Some of what Gundotra said about this new approach
to a stream makes sense. When you use Facebook’s
newly redesigned News Feed, you’re still shown a
single column of items, allowing you to switch
between content types. While that might work on a
smartphone, it might not be the best use of real estate for the desktop. At least, that’s what Google is
betting on with this overhaul.

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Comments
  1. Thanks for sharing this information with , I will return every week to read more.

  2. Very nice blog! Keep up the good work!

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