At the Google I/O developers conference Google announced that Google+ was going to get 41 new features in the coming year. Those new features will be added to three key areas – stream, hangouts and photos.
The first major change is an entire upheaval of the Google+ stream on desktop from a single column to a multi-column design. Some photos and videos will take up multiple columns while smaller stories will take up one out of three columns.
- A multi-column layout. You’ll see one, two, or three columns of content depending on your screen size and orientation.
- Awesome-sized media. Photos and videos can fill the entire width of the stream, making it easier to scan, and nicer to look at.
- Delightful animations. The sharebox bounces, the menus slide, and the cards flip and fade — just to name a few.
Google is also introducing a new feature called related hashtags.
- We’ll look at the post, determine what it’s about, and tag it accordingly (#SFGiants and #BusterPosey, in this case).
- Behind the scenes, we’ll also identify and rank relevant conversations across the network.
- When you click on the related hashtag, we’ll flip the card, and let you browse related content inline.
For Hangouts, Google is introducing an app called Hangouts that’s separate from Google+. It’s kind of like Facebook Messenger, but with all of the sharing and video chat capabilities found in Google+ Hangouts.
- Messaging is richer, and more responsive. Photos and emoji make conversations more fun, while real-time activity indicators really bring them to life.
- Your conversations can last. With conversation history, you can swipe back in time and relive all your favorite moments. (You can also turn off history, if you want.)
- No more annoying notifications. Once you see a notification on one device, we’ll clear it from your other Android devices and computers. You can also snooze notifications when you don’t want to be interrupted.
- You can always say hello, face-to-face-to-face. Whether you’re 1-on-1 or with a group of friends, you can always make a free video call to everyone you’re with.
- The app is available in lots of places. You can download Hangouts from Google Play, the App Store, and the Chrome Web Store. It’s also part of Gmail and Google+.
Photos on Google+ will be adopting a new philosophy of “Your darkroom is a datacenter.” In other words, photographers on Google+ will be able to utilize Google’s cloud technology to make highlighting and sorting photos easier.
- Auto Backup (aka Instant Upload). Too many pictures stay stranded on the phone, so with your permission, we’ll automatically back up your mobile pics as you snap them. Everyone receives unlimited free storage at standard size (2048px), and 15GB of free storage at full size (up from 5GB).
- Auto Highlight. Sifting through vacation photos to assemble the perfect album can take hours. Auto Highlight helps you find your favorites faster by de-emphasizing duplicates, blurry images and poor exposures, and focusing instead on pictures with the people you care about, landmarks, and other positive attributes. Simply visit the Photos page, and you’ll see your Highlights ready to share.
- Auto Enhance. Taking a good photo and making it great is a task generally reserved for professional photographers. That’s why, for example, we continue to support and improve tools like the Nik Collection. For everyone else we’re introducing Auto Enhance: a new way to improve brightness, contrast, saturation, structure, noise, focus… and dozens of other factors automatically. Simply upload some photos, then open the lightbox to see Google’s enhancements. And that’s it. (And of course: you can undo the changes at any time.) Here’s some sample images to get you started.
- Auto Awesome. Sometimes we’ll create a brand new image based on a set of photos in your library. For example: 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.
There are now 190 million monthly active users on plus.google.com (and 390 million monthly active users across Google and the Web).