Just in time for the new year, Google will be rolling out a series of improvements to its social network Google+. None of the changes are particularly earth-shattering, but they seem to be the kind of usability fixes that will greatly benefit the people who use those features a lot. Though none of these will draw people to the site, they should make the people who are there happy, which seems to be Google’s primary goal so far. They include the new ability to give different circles different “volumes” in your feed, improved notifications, improvements to Google Pages, and an improved Lightbox for photo viewing.
The addition of volume for different circles in your feed is a clever little way to let users further control what kind of information is pushed to them. By raising or lowering the volume of a given circle, you basically get to decide how closely you want to “listen” to that group. For instance, you might want to hear everything your coworkers have to say, but you might be okay with only hearing every 3rd thing your family says, especially since Uncle Joe just never shuts up.
Along with this, notifications and photo viewing have been improved. Notifications now come part and parcel with a small preview of the update so that users can have a better idea of exactly what happened without traveling to the content itself. Photo viewing in Google+ has gotten a total visual overhaul and is now a lot more photo-centric. The new interface allows users to easily maximize photos to full screen, comment on them without having the comment box ever-present, and navigate throughout an entire album with a birds-eye view. I don’t use my Google+ much, but I must say, the new Lightbox looks way more attractive than its Facebook counterpart.
Lastly, Google’s pushing through some improvements that’ll make its Pages feature a little more helpful for companies. If you haven’t been keeping up, Pages are the way Google+ treats non-individuals, mainly companies. The new improvements will allow a Page’s owner to assign up to 50 managers who will be able to change account settings and get information about all the action taking place on the Page. Each Page will also be getting a new counter that shows the total number of circle-adds and +1s a Page has gotten, giving both owners and visitors a better feel for how many people are interacting with a given Page.
Like I said before, none of these changes are going to bring new users running to Google+, but the service seems to have found its core base in those first few surges of interest. Yeah, a lot of people left, but the people who love Google+ for being Google+ are still there and it’s a good move for Google to keep making them happy by making the Google+ they know and love even better. Starting a social network is a big undertaking, and Google seems to be doing it carefully, but well.
- Google+ announced Pages a while ago when they decided to chillax some
- Britney Spears recently became the first Google+ user to hit 1,000,000 followers
- Modern social networking imaged in very 1997 style