Google has decided to mix up the way it handles Google+ notifications, and you may have noticed the beginning of this shift yesterday afternoon when the design of the normal notification button changed suddenly. Previously a simple bell, the new button has a smaller bell within a circle (see above)…
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This drop-down notification menu located at the top right of most Google sites is now used a bit differently, with Google putting most of its functionality now in a dedicated sidebar within Google+ itself. The old notification menu now shows you only un-clicked notifications (which are then grayed out when seen), with those that were previously read (clicked) sitting conveniently organized by the time they happened in the new sidebar.
This is a welcome change, at least for me, because navigating my way through read and unread notifications in the previous drop down menu was confusing and messy–especially when the interface required you to scroll all the way to the bottom to find the “previously read” button.
As for why Google made this change, Balaji Srinivasan had this to say:
We know notifications are an important way for you to remain connected to the content and people you are interested in on Google+. To this end, we are adding a dedicated view of notifications to the Google+ desktop site.
You can now browse notifications by clicking on the bell at the top right corner of the Google+ page. The new tray is a simple list that allows you to quickly scan all notifications and view the relevant content with a single click.
So now, clicking the little notification bell next to the Hangouts and Suggestions buttons will slide out an easier-to-navigate interface. Here you can select Notifications, Unread notifications, and Other. The “Notifications” page shows you all notifications, while “Unread notifications,” of course, shows only those that haven’t yet been seen.
Update: Balaji Srinivasan has come out on Google+ to say that they’re reverting the changes…
Thanks everyone for your feedback about the Google+ notifications launch yesterday. We’ve realized that there were a few shortcomings in the new desktop Google+ notification tray, so we’re reverting back to the original notifications experience for now. We value your feedback and will continue to work on new ways to improve the Google+ notifications experience. Thank you.