One of the biggest social networks in the world may be in for some big changes.
Bradley Horowitz, VP of Google Photos, Streams, and Sharing just announced a potentially big update in the direction Google+, saying:
"We're going to continue focusing Google+ on helping users connect around the interest they love, and retire it as the mechanism by which people share and engage within other Google products."
This is certainly an alteration from the original direction of the social network. Google initially tried to integrate Google+ into as much of the Google experience as possible. Google+ was even a gateway into some products, such as Hangouts. One of the most contentious examples of this integration is the infamous YouTube/Google+ commenting system from a couple years ago, which ended up confusing and annoying most users. All this integration was likely a tactic to make Google+ be involved in as many online experiences as possible, and therefore increase its user base.
Horowitz referenced these experiences and admitted the confusion users have had with Google+ over the years in a Google+ post. Google is now saying that its social experience will be less integrated with other Google products moving forward, and your Google+ profile won't be your identity in all the other Google products you use. In fact, starting today, Google+ will be separated and not required for YouTube accounts.
So What Happens Next?
While I don't think Google+ is going anywhere, it does look as if it will retire elements that don't help people connect with their interests. It will also stop being so closely integrated with other Google products.
With its strong communities and the recent launch of G+ Collections, Google+ has always been the best social media for connecting with others around a certain interests (in my opinion). Google thankfully recognizes this and will focus on this strength moving forward. It may not quite be what Google originally envisioned, but it's a good step in the right direction.