Google has dropped the "incoming" stream of posts from Google+, saying the feature was confusing, rarely used, and obsolete.
The incoming stream showed posts from people who followed you but whom you didn't follow. Google+ Engineering Manager Dave Besbris announced the end of the incoming stream in a Google+ post last night:
The "Incoming" stream was a part of Google+ from the very start and it served an important purpose at the time to help people discover others on Google+. Since then however we've added a suggested user list, What's Hot, the ability to share circles and in-product search with saved searches. We've also greatly improved our friend suggestion algorithms. These changes all served the same purpose that incoming originally did: connecting people.
Based on your feedback and our user research, we learned that the "Incoming" stream was a very confusing part of Google+. Not surprisingly, this feedback was reflected in very low usage of the "Incoming" stream compared to the rest of Google+, so we decided to remove it and simplify things.
Google has been constantly refining Google+ since its launch a half year ago. The service has only a small fraction of Facebook's population, but through a feature calledthat sprinkles Google+ information into search results, Google hopes to increase usage.
Unsurprisingly, given that Google+ has millions of users now, the announcement drew commentary from those who liked the feature.
"When people added me to circles, I used the incoming stream to decide If I'd add them back based on their posts," said IT consultant Ryan Lestage.
Besbris responded, "That's the one really good use for incoming that we lose with this change. Overall we didn't think that was enough of a benefit to outweigh the added complexity, and cost of supporting such a rarely used feature over the long term."
Another gripe was that Google's algorithms for finding fresh content are subpar.
"What's Hot should be called What Was Hot Last Week," said Matt Keithley. "I used Incoming quite often. It was an additional layer that was much different than my standard circles."