The whole “Google is splitting up Google+” news brings some speculation with it and I think Google could (or should) communicate this in a better way. Announce this and tell everything right away or wait until I/O and avoid the confusing situation we’re in now
I, for one, do not think changes will be that drastic. Many people aren’t using Photos and Hangouts right now, because they’re part of Google+ (Hangouts is pretty standalone, yes, but I think it would benefit from a native desktop client). Google just wants more people everywhere and to be honest, I think Photos definitely deserves more users, because it’s a great service.
The term “splitting up” is confusing however. Obviously since all Google services are connected, Hangouts and Photos will be just a click away and auto backup is neat, so that won’t be going anywhere. It’s just that you will be able to use these things outside of the Google+ environment.
If you think about it, Hangouts and Photos are re-branded products. Hangouts once was Google Talk and I think Google failed in delivering a smooth transition from Talk to Hangouts. If I remember correctly, at one point we had Hangouts in Google+ and Talk in Gmail. The name itself was (and is?) confusing, because Hangouts were the video calls. And today there is still a difference in functionality between the mobile and desktop versions of the app.
Photos basically is Picasa, but again it’s very confusing. Does Picasa still exist or not? The website is still up and you can download the program. I can imagine that people who used and liked Picasa were not very happy when the Picasa web-album URL was redirected to Google+. They don’t want to use Google+, they want to use Picasa.
I’ve been thinking about these things in this way for a while, but now is a good time to share it, I guess.