JR Raphael

What happened to Google+ auto-refresh?

May 22, 2013 11:58 AM EDT

Google Plus Auto RefreshGoogle's latest Google+ revamp is getting rave reviews -- but there's one element of the new design that's left some loyal users scratching their heads.

It's the lack of in-site refreshment, so to speak: The Google+ desktop experience no longer features an auto-refreshing stream; instead of new posts showing up continually on their own, like they used to, you're now prompted to refresh anytime a new item becomes available.

It seems like a small change, I know, but for those of us who keep Google+ open all day -- myself included -- having new posts roll in automatically at the top of the screen made it easy to keep up with incoming content. While the rest of the new mobile-inspired design is fantastic, the loss of auto-refresh has many of us feeling, well, lost.

So what gives? Here's the scoop: I checked with Google on the mysterious disappearance of G+'s auto-refresh mode, and a company spokesperson tells me the move to a manual refresh setup was a deliberate decision -- and one made for a very specific reason.

It all comes down to the new design's multicolumn approach. With the multiple columns, posts are shuffled every time fresh items appear in order to create an optimal stacking configuration. Because of that, Google determined it'd be disorienting for new items to roll in automatically and consequently cause everything on the screen to jump around without warning, often while users might be in the midst of reading.

Android Power TwitterSo for the moment at least, refreshing your Google+ stream will remain an "explicit action" you'll have to take. If you'd rather not click that little blue box every time something new shows up, you can use the keyboard shortcut "L" (as in "Load new items") instead.

Personally, the need for a manual refresh bugged the hell out of me for the first few days after the new design's debut. At this point, though, I'm pretty much used to it. Considering how nice the new interface is to use, it's a tradeoff I'm happy to accept.

Hey -- change is never easy, my friends. Stay strong, though. We'll get through this...together.

(Cue that godawful Celine Dion Titanic song here.)