From a company that mapped the world, brought us a revolutionary way to search the web and even pioneered the self-driving car, we expected great things from Google’s social network. Unfortunately, it was never meant to be and many are left wondering – what happened to Google+?

Launched in 2011, this was actually one of several ill-fated attempts to rival Facebook. It began in 2004 with Orkut – a platform for ‘meeting new friends and maintaining old ones’. This project was quickly overshadowed by Mark Zuckerberg’s growing empire. Subsequent efforts would endure the same fate as we watched the demise of Google Buzz, not to mention the overly complex, Wave and short-lived, Google Reader.

Google+ stumbled from day one, never delivering on its promise to offer something different from Facebook. Of course, there was some novel features – grouping contacts with circles, video conferencing with hangouts and great photo editing tools – but much of the layout was underwhelming and lacked originality.

Despite its shortcomings, Google+ isn’t ready to throw the towel in just yet. The internet giant has recently announced plans for a relaunch, with a new look and more emphasis on those elements which users seemed to appreciate.

With a focus on usability and mobile-friendly design, the platform will centre around interests, helping people connect with individuals based on a common and shared passion.

A redesign of the current platform will see a new emphasis placed on the popular features ‘Collections’ and ‘Communities’. The former enables users to delve into content about the topics that interest them. You can also customise posts by topic and create lists within that topic.

Complementing this feature, Communities allows users to ‘geek out’ with other users who enjoy the same interest. Whether you’re a fan of modern art, heavy metal or playing the didgeridoo, there’s something to suit all. It’s actually estimated that ‘Communities’ generates an average of 1.2 million new joins for Google+, every day.

Aside from these two features, there’s other new additions to look forward to. The home stream takes on a whole new look with a more simplified interface. It’s clear that Google developers have worked tirelessly to improve user navigation, making it easier than ever to post, share or search for content. As you would expect, site speed and loading times have also been optimised in an effort to improve the platform on devices of all sizes.

You can actually preview this work in progress by clicking the ‘Let’s go’ prompt which can be seen on a top page banner when signed in to your account. Although there are still plenty of changes to be added, you’ll get an idea of the new layout which could become a possible game changer for Google, or is it the end of the road?

For it now it seems, Google+ is alive and ready for one, last effort. What do you think of this new relaunch? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.