Google’s new Photos and Streams could signal the death of Google Plus

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Google is reorganising elements of its social networking platform, which has resulted in the launch of two new services, ‘Photos’ and ‘Streams’, leaving the future of much maligned Google Plus far from certain.

The launch of Photos and Streams sees Google take two of the most popular features from Google Plus, namely photo editing and hosting, to launch them as standalone services, whilst at the same time dropping the Google Plus name.

The announcement regarding Photos and Streams was made by Bradley Horowitz via a post on his Google Plus page, which confirmed he will oversee the new services.

Since its launch in 2011, Google Plus has struggled to compete against the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Failing to find regular users of the service, it is widely regarded to fall someway short of Google’s other services such as Search, Gmail, Chrome and Maps.

Google is yet to make an official announcement regarding the future of the Google Plus brand. However, Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of products hinted in a recent interview with Forbes that the company intended to split up Google Plus.

It is also unclear how the changes to Google Plus will impact Hangouts.

In December, Horowitz talked of Hangouts being an all encompassing communication platform that embraces video, text messaging and audio, which suggested that Hangouts has an important future. These sentiments were also echoed by Sundar Pichai when asked directly about the future of Hangouts during an interview at Mobile World Congress.

Perhaps more of a concern for Google execs is how they plan to ensure Hangouts remains relevant at a time when its competitors such as WhatsApp, Snapchat and LINE, in addition to Facebook Messenger has in excess of 500 million monthly users.

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