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Sundar Pichai hints about the future of Google+, Hangouts and Photos

In a recent interview with Forbes, Sundar Pichai talked on many Google-related subjects but in particular focused on their vision for Google+ today and going forward.

Published onFebruary 26, 2015

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“Google+ is dying”, that’s the sentiment tossed around by many tech publications back in April of last year, shortly after Vic Gundotra departed from Google. It’s a sentiment that hasn’t completely gone away either, especially as Hangouts and Photos have both started to take baby steps away from their Google+ leash, becoming semi-independent experiences in their own right (at least as far as the Android apps are concerned).

In a recent interview with Sundar Pichai, Forbes brought up Google+’s reportedly shaky future, asking the Google exec what lessons they’ve learned from Google+ and what its future will bring. Pichai’s comments were unsurprisingly positive, stating that Google+ has a loyal fanbase (even if not as big as other competing social networks). Pichai also wanted to make it clear that they see Google+ as important for two different reasons:

There’s the stream in the product that you see. And for us, Google+ was also a way by which Google after many years, we made sure there’s common [login and] identity across our products. The second part was in many ways even more important than the first part.

As for where Google+ is heading next? The executive didn’t say anything definitive but he did briefly mention that there are ‘next-generation’ ideas being floated around to further improve the service. Of course, just because Pichai says that Google+ remains an important part of the formula doesn’t mean there won’t be in changes to the way it’s handled. In particular, Pichai revealed that the company will increasingly “focus on [Hangouts], photos, and the Google+ stream as three important areas, rather than being thought of as one area.”

Google understands the importance of all three services and doesn’t just look at Photos and Hangouts as mere “extensions” of Google+

Sensationalists will probably interpret this statement as a hint that this is the beginning of the end for Google+ as a social network, as they do what they can to scrap the “relevant parts” from the service. More likely, Pichai’s comments are simply meant to highlight that Google understands the importance of all three services and doesn’t just look at Photos and Hangouts as mere “extensions” of Google+. In the long run, that means we might see more Hangouts and Photo features become independent of Google+, though we can’t say to what degree.

What do you think, would you like to see Photos and Hangouts become more independent of Google+? What do you think of Google+ as a social network, does it have a long-term future? Be sure to check out Forbes interview in full, as Sundar Pichai also talks a bit about ambitions for China, Google Wallet and a few other key areas.