Google+ Sacrifices Functionality, Usability For Speed

Google / Tech

Earlier yesterday we reported that a possible refresh to the Google+ web page design was coming soon. Yesterday afternoon, Google rolled it out to a select group of users, but anyone who wanted to test it out could do so by going to Settings > Manage Google+ activity and then clicking on the Search box – which of course we promptly did. A little later in the evening, I did receive the prompt to try the new Google+, which of course I accepted.

Before we get too much further, Google does note that:

…since not every feature of Google+ has made its way into this new design, for now, you can toggle back to the classic Google+ with one click in the bottom left-hand corner. […] While this is an exciting new beginning for us, we’re definitely not done yet.

At a first glance, I liked the look of the new interface. It was bigger, some fonts had been adjusted for easier reading, and most of all, it appeared to load a bit quicker. According to Google, the size of the home page load went from 22MB to 327KB through a combination of gzipped code and moving to .webp image format on supported browsers. The main menu is now toggleable via a hamburger icon in the upper right, and the entire design got a pretty hefty Material Design makeover.


Some notable omissions in the new menu (left) including Hangouts, Events, and Pages.

Posts slide into place, image galleries are scrollable inline, and the home stream, Profile pages, Collections. and Communities got a pretty big makeover which is no surprise given that Communities and Collections are the new focus for Google+. What is really interesting is that there no longer seems to be an easy way to access Hangouts (, Events, or Pages ( via Google+ and now and you have to access them by visiting the sites indicated.

Today we’re taking a big step toward making Google+ an even better place for your interests. To do so, we’ve drastically simplified nearly every aspect of the product. You’ll see this clearly in our new navigation centered around Collections and Communities. Collections let you immerse yourself in content about topics like surfing or tiny tilt-shift photography scenes. Communities enable groups of people with the same interests to join up and geek out on anything from Game of Thrones to Painting. With Collections and Communities, discovering amazing things is simple: just follow or join whatever happens to pique your interests.

However, with change and increased speed comes loss of features, functionality, and usability. After poking around for half an hour or so, I found the following “issues” with the new redesign. Like I mentioned above, Google indicated that it is a work in progress so some of these features may (hopefully) find their way back.

  1. Can only share to circle or Collection, can no longer share to Collection and individual (unless you tag them in the actual post text).
  2. Can’t drag an image into the post edit box to add it, must go through the photo attachment, and adds another two clicks if not previously uploaded in another post. No way to access Google Photos or backed up photos.
  3. Takes an extra click to share a post to a Collection or circle that’s not in your last 4 used.
  4. Circle management is very different, will take a lot of getting used to.
  5. Circle streams only shows the top 6 circles you have.
  6. Once you scroll down, while your post box expands, it hides the section where you can change what circle/Collection you’re sharing to. If you add a few blank lines the scrollbar will then appear (it just appears late).
  7. I’m using a GApps account and on the bottom I see the message “Be careful. This could be seen outside of Learn more.” at the bottom of EVERY POST I make or EVERY POST I comment on.
  8. I miss my three column layout.
  9. I like the webp for loading speed but dang it’s a pain when trying to save images and having to convert them to jpg just to see them on your computer after saving them. (NOTE: using the download feature does save a jpg in your Downloads folder I’m told).
  10. I get an error trying to remove a post from a Collection (Classic G+).
  11. Can’t move a post from public to a Collection. FIXED
  12. You can no longer remove a post from a Collection and move it to another one. You have to DELETE the post and repost again in the other Collection. FIXED
  13. New Google+ post photo gallery cuts off edges of images. It moves the right margin to the left margin of the post, resulting in portions of multiple images being shown instead of just the current image.
  14. Pages are gone from the navigation. Hearing that they’re just gone… only viewable from old G+? Can still access them as a page admin by clicking on my portrait in the upper right hand corner.
  15. Hangouts is gone from the navigation.
  16. Events open in a new tab. Events now seem to be just gone period…
  17. GIFs don’t play inline anymore, you have to click on them and they open in a new window/overlay and play. UPDATE: They do play inline if you are on just the post it is attached to.
  18. View count is gone.
  19. Ability to browse other user’s photos and reviews is removed.
  20. Polls are gone.
  21. Can no longer hover over a person’s name to get a bit of information about them.
  22. Have to click twice to +1 a comment.
  23. Mentions tab is gone, there seems to no longer be a way to check your mentions.
  24. Mutual share status circle icon gone from profiles.
  25. Verified user status doesn’t show when tagging a person/page in a post. Seems to have been fixed.
  26. Have to open the post first before being able to access the post Delete/Edit/Disable Comments/Reshares options.
  27. Can’t pin/unpin posts.
  28. Reviews and other business information no longer visible on business pages.
  29. If you share a Photosphere in the new G+ interface, clicking brings up an overlay with the Photosphere icon in it but it doesn’t load as a photosphere. Apparently it does load fine in the updated mobile app.
  30. Can’t edit photos in G+ anymore.

…and I’m sure the list goes on. Of course, Google+ has that handy feedback button so if you ran across any issues, hopefully you submitted it as feedback as well.

Waking up this morning though, I found that my Google+ had reverted to the “Classic” design. I no longer have the option to switch back to the new design, and other users are reporting the same. Although you can still get to the new design using the Settings method mentioned above, there are some differences between that and the version that Google rolled out yesterday. It felt like the new design wasn’t quite ready for a rollout, and it seems Google has (at least temporarily) rolled back access for users who had opted in to use the new interface while they work on addressing the mountain of feedback they most likely received.

Did you get a chance to have a look at the new interface? What did you think? What other features did you find missing? What do you like so far? What don’t you like? Let us know in the comments below, or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

  Source: Luke Wroblewski  Source: Google  Source: Google Developers

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