Google+’s new look: Will it bring the visitors?

April 11, 2012

Photo courtesy Google

Is it time to visit Google+ again?

There’s been a lot of debate about how often people are actually using Google’s 10-month old social networking service. But if you happen to swing by in the coming days, you might notice that something is different: The Google+ Website is getting a major makeover.

The most noticeable change is the addition of a sleek “ribbon of applications” running down the left-hand side of the site that lets users to access the various realms of the social network such as photo albums, friends’ pages and personal profiles.

The ribbon is customizable, so you can essentially create your own interface to navigate Google+.

Google also appears to want to capitalize its group video chat service – a key feature that rival Facebook lacks – by encouraging users to hook-up with strangers for spontaneous group chats or tune into video broadcasts. A new special “Hangouts” page promotes all the publicly-accessible video chats underway, as well as the sessions that your friends are having.

And Google+ has cranked-up the volume on photos (perhaps taking inspiration from the popularity of image-sharing social network Pinterest), making the photos that people share on the service larger and providing more space on personal profile pages for big photos and images.

The changes will be coming out in the next few days, according to Google.

So how many people are actually on Google+? Google said on Wednesday that 170 million people have “upgraded” to Google+ — that’s the total number of people who have created Google+ accounts.

Last week, Google CEO Larry Page said that there were 100 million “active” users, which refers to people who have used the service in the past 30 days. Of course, Google defines “active” as anyone who has used a Google+ social feature in any of its other services, such as Gmail or YouTube; the users don’t necessarily need to have actually visited the Google+ website.

It’s unclear how many people in the Google+ forest will hear the sound of the trees falling as the site unveils its new-look. Then again, maybe this will give people an excuse to pay a visit.

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