This week, developers and tech-geeks nationwide met at the annual Google I/O Developer Conference in San Francisco for three days of product plans, apps, and updates galore. Social media marketers and small businesses should pay special attention to their Google+ updates which went into effect yesterday.
New Google+ Updates
Google added 41 new features to their social network darling, Google+. Yes, 41! Though Google+ has 190 million monthly active users, it's still not as popular as other social communities like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, so with 41 updates comes a more appealing, more competitive network. Software updates include changes to their Stream, Photos, and Hangouts.
Changes to the User Interface
Google+ is now image-centric much like the layouts of both Pinterest and Facebook and features a multi-column interface instead of a singular stream. Google+ will also now add related hashtags to posts and images, so if you're following The Texas Rangers, it may tag it for you with #TXRangers.
New Photo Features
Auto Back Up
With users' permission, Google will automatically upload your mobile pictures to the cloud. They're offering 15GB of free cloud storage for full-size images, preserving the quality and resolution of the image unlike Facebook and Instagram which shrinks the photos.
Auto Highlights identifies the best quality and most important images from your uploaded photo album. Let's say you uploaded 500 photos of your wedding. The Auto Highlights feature will scan and select which ones are in focus, have good exposure and saturation, contain landmarks, contain people, if those people are smiling, and if those people are in your family. Creepy, but so cool!
Auto Enhance can reduce noise, soften the appearance of wrinkles, remove red eye, adjust color saturation and exposure to improve the quality of your photos.
Auto Awesome is, in short, awesome. Someone not smiling in your otherwise perfect group shot? No problem! Auto Awesome will identify the best shot of each person in group pictures and merge them to create one outstanding picture. The Auto Awesome feature can also detect a set of photos (minimum 5) taken in succession and will combine the images into a short animated .gif. As if that isn't cool enough, Auto Awesome can also create a panoramic photo from a series of images with an overlapping landscape AND create a photobooth-style layout of self-portraits with similar backgrounds. Keep taking your selfies, ladies!
Google Hangout App Upgrade
Available now on the web as well as all Android and iOS devices is the new Hangout App which combines the video chat service, Messenger, and Google Talk into one application. The new Hangout features group video chats, the ability to save conversations and rewatch them later, and can sync messages across devices.
What do you think of the new Google+ updates?