Google+ revamped – but developers not happy

Google has tweaked its Google+ social network, claiming it’s now more functional and flexible – but has riled developers by failing to give them any warning.

The biggest change is the addition of a navigation ribbon on the left of the screen, giving access to the most-used features, such as photos and personal profile.

Users can drag apps up or down to create the order they want and hover over certain apps to reveal a set of quick actions. Apps can be shown or hidden by moving them in and out of ‘More’.

“Taken together, these powers make it easier to access your favorites, and to adjust your preferences over time,” says senior VP Vic Gundotra on the company blog.

“We’ve also built the ribbon with the future in mind, giving us an obvious (and clutter-free) space for The Next Big Feature, and The Feature After That.”

The navigation ribbon includes a ‘Hangouts’ option, making it easier to join group chats, and an ‘Explore’ option which points to popular content.

All in all, the company’s pretty pleased with the changes: “We think you’ll find it easier to use and nicer to look at, but most importantly, it accelerates our efforts to create a simpler, more beautiful Google,” says Gundotra.

But Canadian developer Mohamed Mansour – who claims to have developed the most Google+ apps to far – begs to differ. He’s furious at the lack of warning about the changes, and the lack of a sand-box to give developers time to adapt.

“I technically spent hundreds if not thousands of hours building free open source applications, I have converted many users to use Chrome as their main browsers, I even have converted many users to Google+ and made many of them happy,” he says. “Why didn’t you reach out to the developers and tell them major change is coming?”

But his biggest gripe is the lack of acknowledgement from Google for the work he and other developers have put in.

“From the entire blog post that Google released, not even a ‘Thank You’ to any of the developers who contributed to the success of the first Google+ version,” he says.

“Look at the new version, it has a lot of what extensions had. But I guess they dislike giving credit where it is due.”