It’s been a slow death, but the mourning may now commence.
Brad Horowitz, who took the reins of Google+ earlier this year , said Monday that users will no longer need a Google+ account to engage with others on Google products. Instead, any Google email or account will do.
Google launched Google+ four years ago, seeking to create a big social network with a billion or more people updating their status, posting photos and keeping in touch with friends, family and colleagues. The company wanted it to be a “platform layer” that unified Google’s sharing models, as well as a product and a mobile app, Horowitz explained in a (yes, you guessed it) Google+ update.
“This was a well-intentioned goal, but as realized it led to some product experiences that users sometimes found confusing,” he wrote.
Among the most confusing – and irritating – was a requirement that a user have a Google+ account and profile to log into many other Google services.
The most notable rant came in late 2013 when Google imposed this requirement on YouTube viewers, who had been posting comments on the video site for years before Google+ was even a glimmer in Larry Page’s eye. “Why the f— do I need a google+ account to comment on a video,” YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim wrote on his YouTube page.
Fittingly, YouTube is one of the first places where Google is yanking this requirement, according to a Google blog. YouTube told users that they won’t need a Google+ account to upload videos, create channels or to comment.
“They thought they could muscle their way to becoming the next big social network,” said Aaron Goldman, chief marketing officer of 4C Insights, a social-media data firm. “They are finally figuring out what this is.”
Former Google+ head Vic Gundotra said in late 2013 that Google+ had 300 million monthly active users, although exactly how active these people were was always questioned. At the time, Facebook had over one billion monthly actives and it has more than 1.4 billion now.
Horowitz said Google+ will focus on connecting users around specific interests. His said his team is now called SPS, which stands for Streams, Photos and Sharing.
For example, Google Photos, a photo- and video-storage service launched earlier this year, lets users share however they’d like – without a Google+ profile.
Other things people often share on social networks, like their location, are being moved to other Google apps like the messaging and video-chat service Hangouts, Google said.
“In the coming months, a Google Account will be all you’ll need to share content, communicate with contacts, create a YouTube channel and more, all across Google,” the company said.