As a result of the constant iteration of its social network, Google continues to add new tools and features to Google+ but early and less important features are slowly being removed — one of them being the “Incoming” stream on Google+.
The Incoming feature helped users view content shared by the people that had included them in their Circles, providing a quick peek at a wider selection of updates and helping connect users on the service.
Some used the feature to determine whether they would follow people back, but some were left confused by its purpose and the feature remain underused. Google noticed this, stating that it had become a “very confusing part of Google+” that was underused — so it pulled it.
Dave Besbris, Engineering Director for Google+, explained the search giant’s reasoning behind the axe:
The “Incoming” stream was a part of Google+ from the very start and it served an important purpose at the time to help people discover others on Google+. Since then however we’ve added a suggested user list, What’s Hot, the ability to share circles and in-product search with saved searches. We’ve also greatly improved our friend suggestion algorithms. These changes all served the same purpose that incoming originally did: connecting people.
Based on your feedback and our user research, we learned that the “Incoming” stream was a very confusing part of Google+. Not surprisingly, this feedback was reflected in very low usage of the “Incoming” stream compared to the rest of Google+, so we decided to remove it and simplify things.
For those that used the Incoming stream to view updates from people who had added them to circles and add them back, Google has reiterated that the same list of people is “still always available in the people editor under ‘people who have added you -> not yet in circles’”.
Yesterday we covered Twitter’s statement about Google’s new search product, where said it was concerned about how the results would be bad for users of Google search, and Twitter itself. The new search features have led many to say that Google has been anti-competitive and is using its search dominance to assist growth of its own social network, to the detriment of other companies.
Google believes that its algorithms are able to help determine the people and brands that Google+ users might be interested, something that the company has excelled with in its Search offering. Some users might not agree but the search giant is intent on maximising interaction on its service and if people aren’t using the Incoming stream, it needs to find new ways to get users connecting and sharing with each other.