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Google isn’t giving up on Google+ after all

By Mike Murphy

Reports of Google+’s demise are greatly exaggerated. Google today (Nov. 17) announced that it will be redesigning the social network that looked dead in the water earlier this year after it started stripping out key features into standalone products and removed the need to have a Google+ account to use the rest of Google’s services.

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The revamped Google+ will be focused around two features of the current site: Communities, or mini-forums dedicated to a single topic; and Collections, a Pinterest-style function that lets users build out series of posts around a certain topic. According to Google, users are joining 1.2 million Google+ communities each day.

The colorful redesign is grounded—for better or for worse—in Google’s “Material Design” philosophy, which Google says will provide a “consistent experience” across the web and on mobile.

Google says it “spent a lot of time” listening to core Google+ users to figure out what features they wanted. Apparently the social network is a thriving place for niche interest groups, as Google highlighted all sorts of zany groups in its announcement, including ones for people that enjoy zombie cats, old calculators, and wild hummingbirds.

The company wasn’t immediately available to comment on how many users the social network had, or whether the site has been growing since its last re-jig. By some measures, the site had fewer than 6 million users posting earlier this year. (For reference, Facebook now has more than 1 billion users logging on each day, and 1.5 billion each month.)

In a blog post, Luke Wroblewski, Google’ product director, said that users should be able to opt into the new design today—though Quartz was unable to preview the new layout.

Whether the reframing of Google+ as a place to connect with people interested in the same topics—as opposed to all the other social media features it’s tried to mimic in the past—will have any affect on the site’s performance remains to be seen. But Google+’s die-hard fans, though they may be few in number, will definitely have something to post about tonight.