Google to decouple Google+ from some of its sites

It's starting with YouTube, where users won't need a Google+ account to upload videos or post comments

The Google+ logo projected on a warehouse wall during a company event on Oct. 29, 2013.

The Google+ logo projected on a warehouse wall during a company event on Oct. 29, 2013.

Google is severing the ties between its social network and other of its services, so that users will not need to log in to other sites like YouTube using a Google+ account.

In the coming months, people will only need a standard Google account -- not a Google+ account -- to do things like share content, communicate with contacts, and create a YouTube channel, the company announced Monday. YouTube will be one of the first products to adopt the change.

Since launching Google+ in 2011, the company has tried to integrate it into its various other properties, partly in an aim to unify people's identities across them. But the integrations have not always gone smoothly. Google sparked outrage from users when in 2013 the company began requiring people to hold a Google+ account to post YouTube comments.

Now, the company is changing course. While accessing all Google apps with one account can be easier, "we've also heard that it doesn't make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you use," the company said on Monday.

YouTube said that in the coming weeks, it will stop requiring that users have a Google+ account to upload, comment or create a channel. Still, YouTube said users should refrain from removing their Google+ profile immediately, because that would delete their channel.

As part of the changes, YouTube users' comments will only appear on YouTube, not also on Google+, and vice versa. That change starts rolling out immediately. People will also be able to have a YouTube username that is different from the one they use on Google+.

Google is also making broader changes to spin off some of the functions of Google+. Elements of Google+ Photos are moving into Google's new Photos service. The company is putting location sharing into Hangouts and other apps. These changes, Google says, are designed to make Google+ more focused and useful.

This past May, Google rolled out a new service for Google+ called Collections, for organizing people's posts.

And yet, Google can't seem to shake the idea that Google+'s days are numbered. The social network has never caught on like Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat.

Last year, the departure of former Google+ head Vic Gundotra fueled speculation that Google's social network was on its way out.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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