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Is new 'Sign in with Google' button first sign of Google+'s demise?

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The writing sure seems to be on the wall for Google+
Google is testing a sign-in button that doesn't use its social network's branding; Google+ going away?

The writing sure seems to be on the wall for Google+.

A few days after Google+ boss Vic Gundotra suddenly announced his departure from the company, Google has begun testing a new sign-in button for third-party developers around the Internet that replaces the branding of the company's social network.

The two developments seem to suggest that Google may be getting ready to shut down Google+ or no longer emphasize it as one of its top products. 

Google has begun giving some developers the option to display a blue button that shows the Google logo and says "Sign in with Google" in place of the company's standard red button that uses the Google+ icon, according to a report by The Verge

The "Sign in with Google" button is used widely around the Internet by websites and mobile apps to help users quickly sign into new services with the same information they already use to log into Google services. It competes with a similar button by Facebook.

Google launched Google+ as a rival to Facebook in 2011, but although the service has registered more than half a billion users and rolled out several innovative features that have been copied by Facebook and others, the service has never really caught on.

Users may be registered for Google+, but many rarely visit the social network. Many of the signups came after Google began forcing its Gmail and YouTube users to register for Google+ accounts. 

Gundotra's announcement of his resignation last week sparked speculation that Google could be getting ready to turn down the lights on Google+. TechCrunch reported that unnamed sources said Google has begun shifting some of its Google+ teams toward its Android division.

Google has denied that Gundotra's announcement means Google+ is going away, and in regards to the blue sign-in button, the company said it is simply "always testing things." 

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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