Google+ finally splits into Streams, Photos and Sharing

Google building

The process of killing Google+ as we know it has begun, as users will now be able to access Google products with a standard account.

In a Google+ update, Google executive Brad Horowitz explained the decision, saying the platform was part of a "well-intentioned goal", but admitted users sometimes found it "confusing".

We decided it's time to fix this, not only in YouTube, but across a user's entire experience at Google," he wrote. "We want to formally retire the notion that a Google+ membership is required for anything at Google other than using Google+ itself."

It was announced back in March that Google+ would be broken in half, separating the social network into two new products based on photos and an activity stream.

Sundar Pichai, SVP of products at Google, announced the split on stage at Mobile World Congress (MWC), revealing the new product titles to be Google Photos and Google Streams.

According to Huffington Post, he said: "For us, Google+ was always two things, a stream and a social layer.

"The stream has a passionate community of users, but the second goal was larger for us. We're at a point where things like photos and communications are very important, we're reorganising around that."

The stream will comprise services people can share, such as YouTube videos and Google Docs, though Google hasn't yet revealed any details about this.

Google Photos will let people auto upload their pictures, edit them in a browser and share them with friends.

Bradley Horowitz, an executive at the search giant, revealed he will be in charge of both new product lines.

He said in a brief blog post: "It's important to me that these changes are properly understood to be positive improvements to both our products and how they reach users."

Pichai didn't address whether Google+, once Google's own effort to compete with Facebook, will survive as a brand, but the new products make no reference to it in their own branding.

He did however confirm that web video chat service, Hangouts, would continue.

The Verge quoted him as saying: "We're going to put more energy into [Hangouts]. We're seeing good traction there and so we'll work hard to get to the next stage."

It's not clear yet when this change may take place, but more information could be released at Google I/O in May.

This article was first published on 2 March 2015 but has been updated (most recently on 28 July 2015) to reflect new developments.

Caroline Preece

Caroline has been writing about technology for more than a decade, switching between consumer smart home news and reviews and in-depth B2B industry coverage. In addition to her work for IT Pro and Cloud Pro, she has contributed to a number of titles including Expert Reviews, TechRadar, The Week and many more. She is currently the smart home editor across Future Publishing's homes titles.

You can get in touch with Caroline via email at