According to Google, these were the two parts of its social network that have been used the most often. "[We’ve] spent a lot of time listening to what people using Google+ had to say," wrote Eddie Kessler, Google's Director of Streams. "There were two features they kept coming back to: Communities, which now average 1.2 million new joins per day, and Collections, which launched just five months ago and is growing even faster," he said.
Google+ has had a rocky life, since it was first announced in 2011. Originally seen as a potential alternative to Facebook, it seemed logical that the ubiquitous company would be able to crack the social market. But the site had trouble finding its niche among Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other networks. It moved quickly from promise to punchline — several people have declared, at several points, that the social network was "officially" dead. After Google spun out the network's photo management features and stopped requiring a Google+ log-in to comment on YouTube videos earlier this year, it seemed that the writing was finally on the wall.
But clearly Google thought that there were still some parts worth salvaging — a conclusion it seems to have reached after a close examination of how its power users behaved. "Whether it’s the Nonfiction Addiction Community, where people can be found discussing the best in Crime or Travel storytelling, or the Watch Project Collection, where more than 40,000 people are following an antique watch hobbyist, these are the places on Google+ where people around the world are spending their time discovering and sharing things they love," Kessler wrote.
The new design puts Google+ at odds with sites such as Reddit and Pinterest (or the Groups feature on Facebook) by focusing on shared interests rather than the mix of news, life updates and personal pictures that have fueled Facebook's growth.
New Google+ apps for iOS and Android will start rolling out in "the coming days," project director Luke Wroblewski wrote on his personal G+ page. Current Google+ users should be able to preview the new layout on the Web now.