Google gives social network a facelift

April 12, 2012

Google has given its Google+ network a facelift, adding an easier navigation bar and a Facebook-like profile page to centralize users’ experiences.

The makeover comes as part of a pursuit “toward a simpler, more beautiful Google,” the title of the blog post explaining the new look.

“Simply put, we’re hoping to make sharing more awesome by making it more evocative,” wrote Google senior vice president Vic Gundrota.

The new layout focuses heavily on visuals and also lets users customize their own corner of the network with a little more flair. A photo very similar to the “cover photo” on Facebook’s new Timeline layout graces the top of users’ new profile pages. Photos in the news feed show up more prominently, as do videos.

It’s also easier to use Hangouts, which is one of the distinguishing features of the social network. The video chat feature allows users to chat with up to nine people at the same time. Hangouts had been on the front page of Google+ before, but had not been featured as prominently as they are on the new layout.

Since the network’s launch, critics have said that Google’s network wasn’t user-friendly or particularly nice to look at, and had been criticized for poor presentation.

The redesign should address some of those issues — overall, it’s a cleaner, clearer network — though the new look isn’t transferring to the network’s mobile app.

According to a report from The New York Times, Google is looking at ways to “integrate these changes into mobile devices,” but haven’t made the switch quite yet.

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Google co-founder Larry Page shares thoughts about past year as CEO in unusual post

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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