Updated promotional banners for the Hangouts page on Google+

There's a new Hangouts promotional spot for its dedicated page on the Google+ desktop site complete with download links to the app on Android, Chrome and iOS.

This isn't the first time the Hangouts team has been promoting the service on the Hangouts page, a banner has been used to promote the app for Android and iOS devices since April 2014 with the tagline "One place for all your conversations". Once users saw the image, a click of the 'x' would make it disappear forever, well that is until now with an updated version which as far as I'm aware, is unable to be removed.

The updated graphic clarifies the benefits of the service: "Messaging, video calls and voice calls from any device with Hangouts", which is good as the old one was very vague: "Hangouts with your friends, any time, anywhere, free". The new version adds the green Hangouts logo, a new photo of what is supposedly a very, very happy group of friends and family, and a download button with links to all the places you can use the service.

Dave Besbris steps down as Google+ chief, Bradley Horowitz takes lead on Photos and Streams

Dave Besbris has stepped down as Vice President of Engineering for Google+, as confirmed by Bradley Horowitz who will be running Google's Photos and Streams products.

Update: As clarified by +Yonatan Zunger of Google, "Streams" refers to a collection of products (Blogger, Google+, Google News) rather than a singular product.

The future of Google+ as we know it may not be as we thought back when the social platform launched in 2011. It looks like the platform will be split into separate products: Photos and Streams, with the future of Hangouts as we currently know and love uncertain.

After first Google+ lead +Vic Gundotra stepped down last year+Dave Besbris took over insuring that the future of the platform is bright, so it is relatively surprising that today's news that under a year later he is to be replaced by long-time Vice President +Bradley Horowitz who will be overseeing the split of Google+, taking the lead on Google Photos and Streams.

"Just wanted to confirm that the rumors are true -- I’m excited to be running Google’s Photos and Streams products! It’s important to me that these changes are properly understood to be positive improvements to both our products and how they reach users." - +Bradley Horowitz

There are many questions to be asked on what exactly this means for the platform and community at large. Will Google+ be stripped of long-term features such as Photos, Hangouts, Local (development there has been stale in the past year) and others be rebranded as 'Streams' focusing purely on the home stream? That's all speculation on my part but Google+ app updates for Android in the past year has removed link ties to Hangouts, and put Photos on the back burner, displaying only a small link at the very bottom of the drop-down menu.

Google+ Help pane gets a Material Design refresh

The desktop web Google+ quick help menu has been given a visual overhaul following Google's own Material Design guidelines.

The Help pane floats over the top of the Google service you're using, and provides a quick, convenient way to (hopefully) bring up relevant Help Centre articles and essentially get the answer you're looking for. This has been around for a couple of years but the look and feel has remained the same until recently, when visually refreshed versions incorporating Material Design started rolling out across a couple of Google products, and Google+ is the latest one to get the good stuff.
Old Help
New Help

Redesigned social buttons rolling out to Google+ for Android

A new look for the Google+ social buttons is slowly rolling out to users of the Android app.

The freshly redesigned buttons for +1, Comment and Share now have a circular motif, following a trend that the design team for Google+ has been rocking for a while (seriously, they love circles). In addition to the aesthetic change, the +1 count of a post will no longer be reflected on the +1 button itself, but next to it instead (check out the screenshot for an example).

The new buttons have been slowly but surely rolling out to users just over a week now, and we've already seen the same design on the just-updated mobile web view for Google+ yesterday.
Circle is the new square