"In most cases, Google’s algorithms make things better for our users - but in some rare cases, we don’t find what you were looking for. In the past, we provided users with the “+” operator to help you search for specific terms. However, we found that users typed the “+” operator in less than half a percent of all searches, and two thirds of the time, it was used incorrectly. A couple of weeks ago we removed the “+” operator, encouraging the use of the double quotes, which are more likely to be used correctly."
We name our service +, so you can't use that any more in queries. But, hey, you power uses don't count. Notice how they don't equate how many queries used a + operator in the doublespeak below (millions, even with the weasel words on most of them were 'wrong') - what about the % of users which used them to refine search when they didn't get the result they needed? If you want to change something, tell it like it is, we want to improve the distinction for searchers and will help them in this way... If not...
Evil? Pure unadulterated evil in the form of marketing doublespeak. Honesty in short supply in the Googleplex.
Will this hurt Google? No. Because most people won't even notice. will not have read the news from them and less will care. Maybe? Dunno, if I am searching for something which is a keyword attached to a brand, I always need to attach another word to avoid the brand results. I now need to do that differently (which I now know how to do) - people who don't read search news won't have a clue as something which worked for the last 8 years is now bust.