In the past, Google required everyone to establish a Google+ profile in order to obtain a new Gmail account. But now if you sign up for a Gmail account, you can opt out of a Google+ profile. Since 2012, anyone signing up for a new Gmail account was required to sign up for a Google+ account at the same time. However, the company has now added a ‘No thanks’ button that allows users to opt out of the service.
Nevertheless, without a Google+ account you won’t be able to leave restaurant reviews, rate apps, content on the Play Store, or comment on YouTube.
Some believe Google+ has been dying a slow death due to bad implementation by Google, and this recent change represents a huge pivot since they no longer require you to be a + user to use gmail.
As Forbes writer Amit Chowdhry points out, the growth of Google+ was largely attributed to its requirement for using another Google-owned service like Gmail or YouTube’s comments section.
“We updated the signup experience in early September. Users can now create a public profile during signup, or later, if and when they share public content for the first time (like a restaurant review, YouTube video or Google+ post),” said a Google spokesperson via Telegraph UK.
Vic Gundotra, the Google executive in charge of the social network, left in April this year. The Telegraph notes Google chief executive Larry Page commented at the time that Google would continue to invest in Google+. But unnamed sources at the company told Techcrunch that a massive reorganization of the social network was underway, involving a re-classification of Google+ as a platform rather than a product, and a number of staff changes.
Google has been separating Google+ with some of its other services over the last few months. About one week after Gundotra left the company, Google removed the word “Google+” from the buttons where users sign into third party websites using Google credentials.
Google+ stopped forcing users to add real names to their profiles in July. Last month, Google separated Google+ from Google Hangouts and shut down the Google Authorship program, which associated content with the Google+ profile of the author or owner in search results.
Google claims they decoupled search results from Google+ author profiles in an attempt to “clean up the visual design” of its service. The company admitted that displaying rich snippets based on Google+ profiles “isn’t as useful to our users as we’d hoped”.
With the removal of mandatory Google+ profiles for Gmail users, Google seems to be distancing its social network which at one time rivaled Facebook and Twitter.
New Features Sill Being added to Google Plus
Chowdhry explains that even though there’s been a separation of Google+ from several Google services, there are still new features being added to it.
“In May, Google launched a feature that lets users weave photos and videos into an aesthetic travelogue called Stories. One month later, Google+ business admins were given several new abilities: an option to control the content that is available to the public, restriction of access to Google Hangouts for specific units within an organization and a feature to hide employee profiles in external searches.”
And earlier this month, Google+ added an “Applause” feature for users to thumb up or thumb down Hangouts On Air in real-time so that the best moments will be highlighted.
Chowdhry believes there are millions of people that enjoy using Google+ more than any other social network because it has features like Stories, Auto Awesome, Google+ Communities and animated GIF support.