Talking tech since 2003

Google+ is introducing 41 new features today, the most prominent of them being a newly designed stream, a new hangouts app, and a brand new photo experience.  The long standing problem with today’s social stream is that they are flat,” said Vic Gundotra, Senior VP at Google, “And we think we can fix that,” he went on to say.

New Stream Design

The new Google+ stream will start rolling out today and be much better than the current design.  It’s a multi-column design that can also be reduced to a single column if a user chooses.  The new design also features a nifty new share box that animates out, Google Now-esq cards that flip and fade out, and videos that can be expanded to other columns.

Google+ is now also introducing related hashtags, it works by Google+ analyzing a particular post and then Google puts on the appropriate hashtag.  From there, Google+ will rank and search the entire universe of Google+ content and then personalize the ranking and show you related items from the most important sources as well as posts from people who are close by.  If the hashtag isn’t correctly applied, you can “X” it out.


Google is also introducing a new stand-alone application called Hangouts.  The new app allows conversations to be saved, photos are stored in albums, as people join the conversations you can tell, you can see as their typing and where they have read to.  One of the other great features is that notifications are all synced across devices.  Additionally, with the Hangouts app you can also do group video at no charge.  The new Hangouts app is available on Android, iOS, and the desktop — starting today.


One of the new photo features Google is introducing is the ability to pick the very best photos by eliminating blurry photos and photos with bad exposure.  Google can also tell when you take a photo of the same thing and will pick the best one, as well as when you take a photo of a landmark and will include that photo in your highlights.  Additionally, human raters have been able to train the machine learning language on what actual people like in photos and look for those aspects in photos and include those in your highlights.

Google is also introducing a new automatic photo enhancement button, to offer things like tonal distribution, skin softening, noise reduction, and more.  The idea is to make your photos look the best they possibly can.  And based on the demo, it looks pretty impressive.

And lastly, Google introduced a new feature called Auto Awesome — I know, I know, but it looks pretty cool.  The motion feature of Auto Awesome will offers a gif version of the photos that were taken in rapid succession.  There are also other Auto Awesome features including HDR, Pano, Smile, and Mix.

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