Hear that big sucking sound in Mountain View, California? That's the sound of G+'s gravitational pull slowly pulling all of Google's vast ecosystem into one central location: The social singularity.
Earlier this week, Mountain View introduced Google Play editions of the skinny minnie Sony Xperia Z Ultra and lackluster LG G Pad 8.3 tablets. While unsubsidized damn-near-stock Android GP editions mean very little to most consumers, these devices are de facto developer editions and provide hints of where Android may be headed. In this case, it is an apparently Gallery-less future.
As noted by Android Central, the newest GPe tablets, which boast the absolutely latest versions of Android, have ditched Gallery in favor of the G+ Photos app.
This app switcheroo seems to falls in line with a larger photo-centered strategy. Google has gone to great lengths to re-invent its social network as a go-to destination for photo enthusiasts complete with a suite of new image services, most of which we've been big fans of.
It's a G+ ecosystem, we just live in it
If this sort of move towards direct G+ integration sounds familiar, that's because it is. Earlier this summer, the company killed its generic Messenger app in favor of the more robust and G+-centered Hangouts app.
Mountain View has made various moves to evolve G+ into a digital-wide service built around Google web services (Gmail video chats open into Plus, YouTube comments can only be left via a Plus account, etc.).
These moves were probably necessary for G+'s long-term viability. While Google Plus may have started life as a Facebook wannabe, it quickly devolved into a sparsely populated digital clubhouse for Google employees, developers, and tech nerds. (I say this as a fan of G+, but it's true).
My guess is that we will see even greater integration of G+ into Google (and Android) properties moving forward. It will be interesting to see if the strategy will actually bring more eyeballs into the G+ proper.
What does it all mean for you, fair Android user? Depends on your digital lifestyle.
A seamless, cross-property integration has its benefits: e.g. the photos you take with your phone instantly being available online in your G+ folder (a functionality you can shut-off in settings). But centralized integration also has its drawbacks: Passwords can become compromised, government agencies can be given keys to the back door.
As with all things in life, variety is the key. Just weigh your digital options as they relate to how you internet.