Meet the New Google+: A Stylish and Smart Stream that Emphasizes Photos
By Daniel Zeevi
To spark off the Google I/O festivities, Google+ has just unveiled a newly designed Pinterest-like stream in hopes to dramatically improve exploring new content and the display of photos. Google also updated G+ Hangouts-its popular group video chat-to work across any device or platform, with groups of up to 10 friends. Google+ now has 190 million active users on site and 390 million actively sharing content from Google Play (apps), Gmail and sharing videos from YouTube. Google+ is a bustling community for artists, photographers, scientists, marketers and more. And today it’s taking another major step towards enhancing how we share.
Google+ Stream: refurbished design, multiple devices, more to explore
Google understands that people like to move between multiple devices, so its looking to streamline the experience across mobile and desktop. Now the phone and tablet apps have been adapted for the web, including:
- Multi-column layout. You’ll now see one, two, or three columns of content depending on your screen resolution.
- Awesome-sized media. Photos and videos can be displayed across the entire width of the stream, making them easier to see.
- Colorful animations. The sharebox moves around, menus slide, and the cards flip and fade.
Furthermore, Google has added related hashtags to the stream, giving you more ways to explore and “go deeper” into topics. Google will automatically determine what a post is about and tag it for you accordingly. When you click on a related hashtag, it will “flip the card” and let you browse related content inline.
Google+ Hangouts: Richer Conversations
Google is also launching a free stand-alone service that combines text, photos and live video across the Android, iOS and your own computer, with features that include:
- Messaging is more responsive.
- Conversation history.
- Reducing or streamlining annoying notifications across all devices.
- Free video calls to say hello to friends.
- Making the app available everywhere.
Photos: your darkroom is now a Google data center
Google believes everyone should be able to create and share beautiful photos, and is looking to enhance your camera with the Google cloud.
- Auto Backup (aka Instant Upload). With your permission, Google will automatically back up your mobile pics as you snap them. Everyone gets unlimited free storage at standard size (2048px), and 15GB of free storage at full size (up from 5GB).
- Auto Highlight. Find your favorites photos faster by de-emphasizing duplicates, blurry images and poor exposures, and placing more focus on pictures with the people you care about
- Auto Enhance. A new way to improve brightness, contrast, saturation, structure, noise, focus… and dozens of other factors automatically.
- Auto Awesome. Google will sometimes create a brand new image for you based on a set of photos in your library. According to Google, “if you upload a sequence of photos, we’ll try and animate them automatically. Or if you send us a few family portraits, we’ll find everyone’s best smile, and stitch them together into a single shot. Likewise with panoramas, filmstrips, and a whole lot more. We call these kinds of enhancements Auto Awesome.”
Today is the first day of the Google I/O Conference, so there will surely be more ground breaking features to come . But what do you think about the latest updates to G+ so far?