People in the greater Spokane area who still haven't tried Google+ because they prefer interacting with friends and family on Facebook may be pleasantly be surprised by the new features and design changes Google is gradually rolling out.
The new design places more emphasis on photos and looks more like Facebook. There is also a new Local tab that takes users to reviews of restaurants and other businesses in their communities.
Searching for results from Spokane on Wednesday, February 6 produced reviews of popular local establishments such as Dick's Hamburgers and Luigi's Italian Restaurant. There was also a review of the Barnes and Noble at Northtown Mall and a subcategory for local coffee shops.
On Wednesday, February 6, Samantha Murphy of Mashable gave her readers a preview of what the new Google+ will be like.
According to Murphy, "... Among the changes is a new tab for local reviews — a move in line with Google's efforts to expand local search across its platforms.
"Similar to photos and +1 buttons, users will be able to highlight reviews and favorite restaurants (This option can also be hidden via the settings button)."
Google also added a new tab called "Find People." Much like Facebook's Graph Search, it makes it easy to find people a user might already know. For example, someone who writes for Examiner will see thumbnail pictures of other Examiner writers with a number indicating how many people they have in common in their circles.
In an update posted by Sara McKinley of Google on Wednesday, February 6, she gave a brief overview of some of the new features
According to McKinley, "We spend lots of time listening to your feedback, and today we're launching some profile and page updates that you've been asking for. These include:
"... An easier way to edit your info. The 'About' tab now consists of separate cards (like Story, Places, and Links) -- each with its own prominent edit link. As always: you can share specific fields with specific circles, or keep them just for you.
"Bigger cover photos, with a better aspect ratio. Cover photos are much larger than before (up to 2120 pixels by 1192 pixels), and they display in 16x9 when fully expanded. This way more images can be used as cover photos, and there’s more room for your selection to shine."
The new, more graphic-oriented version of Google+ doesn't appear to be available yet in the Spokane area, but it should be soon.
"Everything's rolling out gradually, so check back soon if you don't see it yet," McKinley said. "Once it’s live (at plus.google.com/me), let us know your thoughts in the comments!"