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Google+ gets an overhaul

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Google+ ain’t dead, yet.

The moribund social network has received a new shot at life with a redesign focused on allowing users to gather in communities devoted to certain topics. The change involves a full redesign of the service across the Web, Android, and iOS devices that users can choose to test when they sign in on the website.

Google+ was previously focused on allowing users to divide their contacts into “circles” that never had to interact with each other. This didn’t prove enough to help the social network take on Facebook and Twitter, however, so the company spun out the best aspect of Google+ and has now apparently rethought the site.

Google “director of streams” (whatever that means) Eddie Kessler said in a blog post Google+ is focusing on communities and collections based on user feedback.  These are “the places on Google+ where people around the world are spending their time discovering and sharing things they love,” Kessler said in his blog post.

The new Google+ is supposed to be available now, but I was unable to opt-in to the updated service using the methods described in this post. From what Google has said, however, it seems like the company is changing Google+ into a Reddit competitor instead of an attempt to take on other social networking services.

Google+ could have the benefit of being connected to people’s Gmail accounts. My real name and face appear whenever I post something on the service; when I post to Reddit, though, I can use any pseudonym I like without restriction. This could make Google+ seem like a friendlier, decentralized version of its controversial competitor.

But, then, pseudonymity is one of the nice things about Reddit. (You can pry my throwaway account from my cold, dead fingers.) Perhaps the two sites won’t compete so much as they’ll coexist by focusing on different audiences. Until the new Google+ is widely available it all comes down to little more than guesswork.

People should be able to test the updated Google+ website now. The company says updated applications for Android smartphones and the iPhone will be released in “the coming days.”

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