It’s no secret that Google+ didn’t quite work out the way Google envisioned and now, after already moving Google Photos out of the service, it’s starting to decouple Google+ profiles from its regular Google accounts.
The idea behind Google+ profiles was to give users a single identity across all the company’s platforms. Users didn’t like this and as Google VP of Streams, Photos and Sharing Bradley Horowitz acknowledge today, the company is starting to wean itself off from Google+.
“People have told us that accessing all of their Google stuff with one account makes life a whole lot easier,” he wrote in a blog post this morning. “But we’ve also heard that it doesn’t make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you use.”
The first service that will be decoupled from Google+ is YouTube, which introduced Google+ comments back in 2013 in an effort to reduce trolling in its comments section. YouTube users were not amused. In a few months from now, you won’t need a Google+ account to share YouTube videos, comment or do anything else on the site, really. Users who have linked their Google+ accounts to YouTube will also be able to remove their Google+ profiles from the service in the near future.
Horowitz also today announced that the company will continue to move some features out of Google+. The focus of Google+ — which still isn’t quite dead — will be on “becoming a place where people engage around their shared interests, with the content and people who inspire them.” That means Google will focus on features like Google+ Collections and move location-sharing to tools like Hangouts, where they, according to Horowitz, really belong.
Ever since Vic Gundotra left the company, Google+ was essentially “walking dead,” as Alexia Tsotsis and Matthew Panzarino wrote last year. Over the course of the last few months, Google didn’t only move its photo service out of Google+, but it also quietly started to remove features like Google+ sharing and links to the service from its system-wide toolbar.
With today’s update, it’s clear that Google+ will continue to live, but while Horowitz argues that Google wants to give the service more focus, it’s hard not to look at today’s news and think that the company is indeed slowly giving up on it. With Photos, Google already ripped out the best part of Google+ and all that’s left now is a tepid social network around the idea of “shared interests.”