Google+ gets a major update, simpler UI and heavier focus on Hangouts (video)

Google isn't quite calling it version 2.0, but today's update to its flagship social product is just that. As with most Mountain View projects, the new Google+ will rollout gradually, but as it does it may just lure back some of those who jumped ship early on. The UI has been greatly streamlined with a customizable ribbon of shortcuts on the left and your buddy list moved to the right. The main interface has been tidied up quite a bit and a new focus has been placed on one of the universally beloved features of the beleaguered social network -- Hangouts. The video chat party lines will be getting their own dedicated home page too, allowing you to quickly peruse any Hangouts that are available to you. Even profiles are getting a dramatic facelift with larger photos and Sparks have officially been retired in favor of an Explore tab. Perhaps most welcome though is the enhanced multimedia sharing. To see all the fancy new features in action check out the videos after the break. And, of course, let us know if you're seeing the shiny new layout on your end -- we're still waiting on Google to flip the switch for us.