Google remains busy tweaking its social network, Google+, announcing yesterday in a blog post the launch of a redesign. According to senior vice-president Vic Gundotra, the upgrades aim to give users “a simpler, more beautiful Google.”

After an invitation-only trial run, Google+ opened to the general public in September 2011 and by January 2012 it had drawn 62m users. Alongside the announcement of the service upgrades, Google also threw in its latest estimate, saying that Google+ now has 170m users.

Gundotra said that the introduction of the latest changes would improve functionality and flexibility, making the social network more user-friendly and eye-pleasing. The upgrades make it easier to navigate the site and pop into online discussions and the service now has a page dedicated to its Hangout feature.

The redesigned start page has more white space and instead of the traditional navigation bar at the top, the buttons have been arranged into a “navigation ribbon” placed on the left-hand side of the page. Should users feel so inclined, they can hide or rearrange the buttons. The user profile page has also been included in the make-over, sporting a large cover photo and introducing a bigger size for user pictures.

But Google is not yet done with the upgrades and its efforts are not confined to its social network, which has a lot of catching up to do in the race with Facebook and Twitter. Gundotra said the plan was to improve all Google services and make them easier to use, which means that users can also expect changes to Gmail, YouTube and Google Maps.