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Joseph Hindy
47,988 followers -
The Writer Formerly Known as Joe.
The Writer Formerly Known as Joe.

47,988 followers
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Here is my final post on what's wrong with Google+

I have seen a lot of posts about what's wrong with Google+ over the course of the last couple of months. In fact, they are some of the largest posts in my news feed. It seems like a lot of people have left the site and pretty much the only people left are trying to figure out what went wrong.

I have posted about this before, ad nauseum, so I've decided to put my final thoughts on the matter all in one post and then just leave it there, for better or for worse. I really enjoyed Google+. I'm not leaving, but I feel like this place will never have the kind of vibrant ecosystem that it once had. It happens.

So while my laptop slowly dies in front me, I shall type out my final thoughts on Google+ and then proceed with my usual ramblings about new tech I bought or my posts on Android Authority. I promise, this is my last one. Here's hoping the G+ teams at least glances over it :P

1. The news feed algorithm sucks
This is by far the worst offender, and one that I've seen people complain about for years. The algorithm simply does a bad job at guessing what people want to see. I haven't seen a post from Mike Elgan on my news feed in 3 years. Many fellow bloggers (the few that are left standing here anyway) don't show up. Most of the websites, news sites, and blogs I follow don't either. In fact, during the course of my average day, I see posts from maybe about 25 people. I follow far more than that. The algorithm doesn't show me the rest.

I've had followers tell me that they didn't even know I was still active here because their feed doesn't show me anymore. It doesn't seem to matter who it is or how often they're active. The algorithm simply isn't showing people what they want to see. At least, based on all the posts, replies, and discussions I've seen, that seems to be what a ton of people are saying.

It's also my number 1 sticking point personally. You can't follow trends at all (hashtags only barely still exist here). Whether or not you see current events is random at best. One time, I saw a post by +Roy Hembree​​​​​​ at the top of my feed. He had just finished constructing a fence. The post right after it? Why, it was Roy's post from 4 hours prior about how he was about to start building a fence. Thanks Google+.

Now, the normies probably don't mind this so much. The Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest mentality of "we're not here for the latest, just show us stuff we've not seen yet" is a demographic that is not complaining about this. However, some of the most engaging, long tenured members and some of the biggest power users have lost a lot of their steam here because we can't talk about the latest thing anymore unless G+ just so happens to bring it up for us. Talking about the latest thing won't show engagement for hours sometimes. Why bother posting about the latest current event if no one's going to see it until tomorrow? Then it doesn't matter anymore.

Thus, I believe that the terrible algorithm is a large reason why some of the more loyal G+-ers have left the site, have stopped posting, or are currently complaining. I would prefer a chronological order. At worst, something like what twitter does. Show the posts in order and then interrupt the feed every now and then for a "stuff you may have missed" section. The full algorithm isn't doing it's job and is literally preventing active users from engaging with one another. Just because I don't +1 someone's post or share it doesn't mean I don't want to see it, Google+.

2. The site is actually losing large companies, people with large followings, etc
I went through my circles a while ago and started dropping people who haven't been active in at least 6 months. Included are huge companies like the official NHL page (and most team-specific pages), several large news/tech sites, and many prominent bloggers (including some from Android Authority).

Facts are facts. People and companies that matter are leaving this place. Even if the news feed is a bunch of random posts from anytime within the last 2-3 days, not having official NHL news (or any NHL teams) lowers the quality of the hockey content significantly. Likewise with news sites, tech sites, and big personalities. The news feed is simply a worse place without them.

If Google+ is going to grow stronger, they gotta find a way to make the platform appealing enough to bring those things back. I come here because of tech, but my hockey G+ circle is literally entirely gone. I go elsewhere for my interests outside of tech. I suspect many others have as well (maybe not hockey, but i'm sure that's not the only interest that's not represented well here anymore).

This also kind of ties into the algorithm. I can see why big sites and companies kind of throw in the towel here when it seems like no one is interested in their content. In reality, a lot of people who are interested may not be seeing it. I didn't know the NHL was inactive until I looked myself because I'm so used to the G+ news feed not showing me everything I follow.

3. The robots made everything seem better than it was
My 50k followers aren't all real people. In fact, most of them aren't. It gave me a false sense of happiness and I'm mad that it was a lie. Likewise, spam comments, spam follows, spam shares...while it makes the numbers on a post look better, the content is hollow, empty, and lacks engagement. Spam has been discussed in a big way in +Cliff Wade​​​​​​'s Google+ post (linked just below), so I won't go into it here since I agree with a lot of it:
https://plus.google.com/+CliffWade/posts/Dfa4b1i7Aka

4. Google+ started out about people, now it's about stuff
When Google+ first started, it was about people. Managing and building circles, creating connections, chatting with random people about stuff you had in common, etc. A lot of the loyal, long time users refer to those as 'the good old days'. When collections first appeared, the focus shifted from people to stuff. Collections got a lot of space on the news feed and were suggested very heavily for follows.

I agree that G+ needed to focus a little more on stuff. Collections as a whole isn't a bad idea. However, there are some things that individuals and communities do better than collections. Communities do a better job of bringing people together around a topic they all enjoy. Individuals are better at creating hyper-local conversations about things between them and their followers.

Collections exist somewhere between that. I follow a wallpapers collection that I can never contribute to. There are no collections with a consistent presence of NHL news. The best use for collections that I've seen is when people put their stuff in different ones. Thus, if I don't want to listen to a tech blogger ramble about politics, I can unfollow their political rants collection and just see their normal stuff. They're like single-person communities and that phrase is an oxymoron.

I can handle collections existing. However, I think the over exposure of collections and the over emphasis on them created more harm than good. It was too far of a swing and it didn't balance well with the existing content and features of Google+. The "way it used to be" doesn't have to be the only way it has to be...but drowning it out entirely is also a bad idea. There's a middle ground. I believe Google+ should try to find it.

5. Some of the services that got ripped out of here were needed here
I agree with a lot of the services becoming their own platforms. Google Photos and Hangouts are better as individual platforms.

However, what I totally disagree with is that those platforms are no longer supported here. You can no longer have a hangouts tab open on G+. Google Photos is no longer directly integrated with Google+ (no more notifications about auto-awesomes). I still get Photos notifications when someone joins a collection, but if I want to see what the platform is doing any given day, I have to open the app. Another thing to check every day. Literally twice as much work for something that used to just take place here. Maybe that's the real sentence that matters. A lot of people could justify logging in and being active here because it allowed them to do engage with Google+ and do other Google things. I'll be honest, I signed in far less frequently when YT and Hangouts integration died. I could reply to YouTube comments and chat in Hangouts AND check Google+ AND do other stuff in one tab. Now I need 2+ tabs and a browser extension. Chrome eats too much RAM already, so G+ is usually the first tab that gets shut down.

But it's not just that. Being able to share YT videos by commenting on the YT video and clicking that "and also share on G+ box" was awesome. Being able to read and respond to YT comment replies in G+ was also pretty great (they're still there kind of but the functionality keeps getting scaled back and let's face it, it'll be gone soon).

Hangouts on Air wasn't being used much anymore, but when your focus is collections and not people, a drop in popularity for those kinds of platforms is expected. I remember joinable Hangouts being a fun activity around this time of night. Then those stopped, then people started doing fewer shows, then it was removed altogether. This also ties into the algorithm. How was open hangouts video chats supposed to succeed when nobody knew it was happening for potentially hours? Seriously, the algorithm ties into almost everything.

I'm not saying that these platforms had to be completely entwined with G+, but G+ used to be a really cool kind of hub for a lot of these other services. I feel like expanding on that a little bit would've been better than removing them altogether. Having a photos tab on G+ to sort through Google Photos, having the Hangouts functionality and YT functionality there. Hell, G+ could've added Google Now support. Open up http://plus.google.com and get the weather, news articles according to my interests, see my upcoming Google Calendar events, AND posts from individuals/collections/communities (in an order that makes sense for once)? Count me the hell in!

Long story short, Google+ was more dynamic and fun when it was connected to Google's other platforms and Google's other platforms were (at least a little) connected to G+. Especially if you consider the kinds of ridiculous things we could be doing in the alternate reality where G+ added to its feature set instead of subtracted (or tried goofy crap that didn't work, like Spaces. Ugh, so glad that's dead). I still think adding Google Now to G+ is a good idea. Let us check all of our Google notifications here. Just let the velvety blanket of Google wash over this place. It'll be fine.

Wrap up
The Google+ team hasn't done a horrible job with this place. However, many of us have noted how much less aggressive Google+ has been since Vic left the company a few years ago. Even if it's not the best change, any change at this point would be appreciated. Something to liven this place up. I believe most of the work will have to be done with incremental updates and user testing. However, the G+ team needs to come up with a couple of ideas, roll them out suddenly, and make a big deal about it.

In reality, I think the "good old days" that we long time members refer to are the days when G+ used to change in a meaningful way. Remember when auto-awesomes came out? And when Mr. Jingles got themed for holidays? Or when we could post giant emoji as our images to convey the emotion of our posts and new ones were added/removed all the time? Then there were things like late night Hangouts, circle shares, and that little box with trending hashtags that disappeared a while ago? Those were the "good old days". Everyone goofing around, posting stuff, talking to each other. Exploring new features, using them in our posts. It might not have been driving tons of new people in, but word of mouth was strong. There was ALWAYS something to do here. Now it's more of the same. "Shut up and scroll" lol. Yes, the topics these days are a little more serious (thank you politics, ugh), but Google+ used to be a moving, breathing creature that we had to re-learn and play with almost every other month. That was fun.

It reminds me a lot of how T-Mobile is now. Aggressive, not afraid of change, not afraid of bucking trends and trying new things. Big social presences and huge word of mouth. G+ was likes that. Bold, fast, and most importantly, different.

The good news is that based on activity I've seen in the last few days, the G+ seems to be listening and ready to start making some changes. I just hope that they're good changes.

I guess that's everything I have to say. I love it here and I don't want to leave. I'm probably not ever going to leave and will just roll with the punches however it turns out. I guess I'm just silly like that (insert giant tongue out emoji that Google+ took away from us)
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So I haven't asked this yet, and I haven't a poll in a while. No context whatsoever:

Which part of the smartphone do you care most about?

I'm talking about the one that when you hear about it, it gets you excited. Amped up. Tons of people debate on what the most important part of the phone is (the part that makes phone calls, otherwise it's just an ipod) or the part that should be considered the best or whatever. I don't care about all that, this is more personal. What do YOU care most about for phones that you're considering.

For me, it's audio. Specs are more or less equal. Cameras...well they're important but most of them are at least "good enough". Display is pretty much a 2k amoled or lcd panel (neither of which sucks).

It feels like, to me, that the part that ends up being totally random is the audio. Sometimes it's basic crap (normal 3.5mm headphone jack, bottom firing speaker), but I just find that I get more excited when there are HiFi options, front facing speakers, etc.

There's not right or wrong answer, and feel free to share if you want :) the more the merrier. 
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Camera
Specs
Audio
Etc (please comment w/answer)
19%
Display
24%
Camera
40%
Specs
11%
Audio
6%
Etc (please comment w/answer)

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So the HTC U11 seems to be amping headphones the same way the built in amp in the V20 or the HTC 10 did. That's kind of interesting. By chance, does anyone know if the latest iPhone, the Moto Z, or any other "No headphone jack" phones do this as well?

Cuz if not, HTC may have a super stealthy world first here and no one's talking about it. 
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So I'm curious. What would Android Wear need to include to make one want to use it? I'm totally considering getting a new Android Wear watch now that 2.0 lets you install apps natively on the watch. It seems like it's nice, I just dunno what I'd use it for. 

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This evening I participated in my first Massdrop for a pair of AKG K7xx Red Edition headphones. I really didn't need them as I'm not dissatisfied with the ones I have, but $200 for these is reportedly a steal as long as I don't mind them being made in China instead of Austria.

I'm actually kind of nervous about it. I've never spent this much money on a frivolous purchase before, although I suppose I can recoup most of my losses on ebay if I don't like that.

Mostly excited though, these cans are supposed to be really good. 
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So tonight I got to watch an opossum play possum live for the first time. It was in the yard when I let the dogs out (didn't know it was there). All three dogs charged it. It ran about 5 feet then collapsed. The dogs sniffed at it for a moment then went about their business like it wasn't there.

I guess the reaction is involuntary. When faced with enough stress, their bodies just shut down and they emit a scent that mimics a corpse. Predators take note and leave it alone usually.

It should be up and about before morning (it's stuck in its comatose state for a while). No fighting or biting took place so I'm not worried about its health (or my dogs lol). It was just so cool to see that happen right in front of me. Opossums truly take anxiety attacks to the next level and somehow also make them functional. I'm impressed. 
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The front page of literally every political blog for the last 18 months be all like... 
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Android O beta came out today, so I did a little video on it :)

Actually, it's short, but there is TONS of info in it from the beta and from Google I/O 2017 :)

I hope everyone enjoys it! Share it with friends if you did (if you wanna) :) Feedback is always welcome.

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The latest #AAPodcast is out! We had a good time and talked about some tech!

We're on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, SoundCloud, and most podcast apps!

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The 191st edition of Android Apps Weekly is out! Injustice 2 is out (it's okay) and I really liked AutoSet this week :)

Give it a +1 or a share if you want to! Thanks!
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