Google pushed out a huge update to (web) Google+ yesterday, and after just 24 hours, the verdict is in: it’s terrible.
It’s often difficult to tell the difference between “I hate change terrible” and “quantifiably terrible”, so I’ll just make a list of problems and let you decide:
- Google “solved” the whitespace problem by simply shitting posts all over your page, which looks like beautifully rendered chaos (or, Android design language).
- The new design actively forbids automatic updating to accomodate new posts to your stream, because it would have to refactor how the posts are ordered just to fit them into the Jenga tower. If it’s not clear enough to you: You might be in the middle of reading a post when your entire page is refreshed and now that post you were reading is somewhere else (or may have fallen off your feed entirely).
- Normally, I’m all for animations. Animation communicates to the user how one element becomes something else. But in the ‘Share what’s new…’ box, try clicking ‘Photos’, then ‘Cancel’. Do it a few times in both Firefox and Chrome, and just observe the ‘animation’. There’s gotta be a better way to deal with that.
- There doesn’t seem to be any logic to the order of things in your home feed. You’d expect things like “new posts you haven’t yet seen” or “posts with lots of activity” or “contains keywords the Google overlord knows you are interested in” would float to the top, but the posts I’m looking for are always at least a scroll away.
- Comments are now collapsed for being too long. Even if you click to expand all the comments, any comment over three lines is still collapsed and requires an individual click to expand it. This is really tedious and feels like Google is encourage users to turn Google+ into a fancy, threaded Twitter.
- The notification bar is so broken, even though I am going to rail on it for the next few points, just it shipping in this state is worthy of its own point.
- Viewing posts from the notification bar wraps them in a huge border that makes viewing posts this way feel like they’re second-class citizens. It really feels like Google is punishing you for revisiting old content you’ve already interacted with rather than going and finding new content to comment on.
- Just looking at the notification bar once clears all unseen notifications. You have to remember where you were in the stack in order to see everything.
- Scrolling the main page while the notification bar is up will close the notification bar, losing your place and any text you might have typed into a comment box.
- Scrollbars within scrollbars! Especially within the notification bar. I can get three scrollbars up on the screen just by reading a post from the notification bar. Some users have reported up to eight visible scrollbars on the screen at once. Just figuring out where to place your mouse in order to scroll the content you’re trying to read becomes difficult.
- The +1 buttons on comments have been greatly reduced in size, so expect fewer people to bother +1′ing your comments.
- Font rendering is very different between Firefox and Chrome. Ironically, the rendering in Google’s own browser looks worse (Firefox applies a lot of anti-aliasing, and while I don’t really care for that, Chrome has lots of very ugly kerning and edge clipping issues).
For now, the Google+ app on iOS is the best way to use the service.
EDIT: It turns out Hangouts are now poisoned by Pony.