It was a year ago that we wrote a blog post that looked at the questions surrounding the future of Google+ following its conspicuous absence from conversations at Google’s developer conference, Google I/O, in the summer of 2014. We mentioned then that Google+ has faced tough questions from the beginning of its existence when it launched on June 28, 2011.
In its nearly four years of operation, the platform has faced the premature declarations of its demise, which kicked up in earnest with the departure of the platform’s creator, Vic Gundotra, in April 2014. As we asked then: “Without its passionate advocate at the helm, where is it headed?”
Social giant Facebook has dominated headlines this year, having recently made news for its innovative approach to delivering news by teaming up with news organizations to create Instant Articles. But Google+ is now in the news (again), because this year, Google takes a different tack at Google I/O 2015 and tackles Google+ questions head on.
Bradley Horowitz, Vice President of Streams, Photos and Sharing, spoke to the press yesterday at the event about Google Photo’s disconnect from Google+ and that changes are on the horizon, but did not go into specifics of the product plans for Plus
Speaking with Backchannel for an interview Horowitz shared on his own Google+ account, he’s quoted as saying, “It’s fair to say you’re about to see a huge shift in what Plus is becoming. It’s a shift in response to what users are telling us. That’s a very healthy and natural thing. As opposed to sticking to strategies of years ago, we’re actually adapting to how the product is successful in market and doubling-down on that.”
Slash Gear, in its own take on the “Google+ is Not Dead” headlines that started popping up yesterday, proclaimed in its headline: “Google+ isn’t dead, but blood has been shed.” The piece opens with the question, “Remember Google+?”
While Horowitz argues that the platform is now showing greater signs of life now, to many, it did seem that the platform was being left by the wayside. So what does Google have in store for it, and will this be a dramatic shift from a “social network” approach to something entirely different?
When asked by Backchannel about where it’s going, Horowitz pointed to specifically what he feels is the platform’s current strength. “For instance, one particular use-case on Google Plus is people aligning around common interests. If I’m interested in astronomy and I want to meet other people interested in astronomy, we think we have a good solution – Collections, a new feature that we launched just two weeks ago. It’s the first in a series of pivots.”
Horowitz seemed mos excited to talk about was Google Photos. Google describes it on their official blog as “a new, standalone product that gives you a home for all your photos and videos, helps you organize and bring your moments to life, and lets you share and save what matters.”
An app, Google Photos allows users to enhance their photos, organize them and share a link to hundreds of photos at once. Recipients can see what’s been shared without having to use a special app or login and can themselves save the images into their own library.
It’s currently available on Android, iOS and the web. And Google notes more is in store for photos.