Big changes are coming to Google's struggling social platform, Google+

Bradley Horowitz of Google

Google+ is not dead, but it’s about to change.

That was the message that Google exec Bradley Horowitz delivered at a special briefing with reporters during Google’s annual developer conference on Thursday.

“Google+ will be changing,” he said during an event at Google I/O, the company’s big annual conference.

Horowitz assured the audience that the company would continue to work on Google+ despite the fact that it just announced a brand new Photos app which separates the photo service from the social network.

“What I can commit to is the same level of product diligence on Google+,” he said, adding that Google+ has an “excellent” team behind it.

Google+ launched in 2011 with much fanfare, but the service has struggled to compete with Facebook as a popular social media stream. In 2014, Vic Gundotra, the head of Google+ left the company, raising questions about the service’s future.

As Google+ evolves, it will increasingly focus on connecting people around “shared connections and interests,” effectively creating online communities for people interested in similar things such as vintage guitars, Horowitz explained. Currently, Google+ sees one million circle joins a day for these kinds of communities.

“You’ll see us continue to double down on that use case,” Horowitz said.

The comments seem to echo what Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of products, said to Forbes in February. “You’ll continue to see us focus on communications, photos and the Google+ Stream as three important areas, rather than being thought of as one area,” Pichai said to the publication.

Technically, plenty of people use Google+, since signing into Google+ gives you access to Gmail, Google Drive, and all of Google’s other apps. But as a social network, it hasn’t caught on the way Facebook has.

Now, it sounds like we’re going to learn more about Google’s strategy for Google+ moving forward.

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