Google Plus was developed at breakneck speed to counter the rising threat of Facebook in social. Launched in June 2011, Google Plus allowed users to post status updates and organized friends into groups called Circles. There was an instant messaging and video component called Hangouts, as well as a photo backup service.
In addition to being a social network, Plus was meant to be the social layer to all of Google’s other products. A user’s Google Plus profile was used for many other services, like YouTube. The ‘+1’ button was a competitor to Facebook’s ‘Like’ button and was present throughout the web.
Despite the attempts at company-wide integration, Google Plus never really took of among users. In November of 2015, Google unveiled a major redesign that put a renewed focus on Collections and Communities to create an interest-based social network instead.
Popular features like Hangouts and Google Photos were eventually spun out into their own separate and wildly popular product.