Been on Google+ lately? Google+ has new features racing out of the company’s ever-creating engineering division. 2013’s list of additions includes sometimes subtle tweaks, such as an alternate text placement or on occasion contains a significant adjustment to the Google+ user, in the instance of the layout redesign that rolled out in May. The most notable modifications are the changes to the Google+ Stream, the revisions to Hangouts, and the flashy new ways Google+ will take the work out of editing photos.
The Stream received an attractive touch-up in May with the choice of multiple columns to display what is happening in a user’s network of circles. Images and photos are the new focus, making the time it takes to spot something interesting much shorter.
Two handy Stream features introduced in August are the Ribbon and the Resume elements.
The Ribbon is a small blue symbol that appears to the left of the Stream showing how many posts down the Stream the user has read. The purpose is to provide easy access for the viewer to find which post he left off reading.
The Resume button goes hand in hand with the Ribbon button by allowing the reader to go back to the area on the Stream he left off. Since the Stream is in real time, new messages and pictures appear constantly as other users post them. If the viewer wishes to stop halfway through reading an older post to check out the newest updates, he may then jump back to the older post down the Stream with the help of the Resume button.
Hangouts is the Google+ multi-faceted medium for instant communication. This communication can be in the form of photo sharing, messaging, and live voice or video chat.
One compelling attribute of Hangouts is the ability to review former textual Hangouts. In the same vein, photos posted in Hangouts are organized for future inspection in shared folders created automatically by Google+. Hangouts on Air, an extension of the basic Hangouts component, provides voice and video rewatching capabilities by allowing those in each Hangout to post the recording on YouTube.
Google+ presented perhaps its most readily relevant trait in the form of photo editing in May. In a world of visual interaction, education, and so much more, users need more efficient ways to document their everyday lives.
The two key ingredients for photo editing Google+ revealed are Auto Highlight and Auto Awesome.
Auto Highlight sifts through a user’s photos uploaded to Google+, skipping blurred photos, duplicates, and over-exposed images. It recommends only photos it deems share-worthy by recognizing faces, monuments, and other dominant characteristics.
Auto Awesome assembles several similar photos into a single polished presentation. Snapping photos of the same view, but in different exposures, allows Auto Awesome to merge them into one shot with varying levels of contrast. Auto Awesome’s motion feature lets five or more photos of movement be fused into a looped video. Another of its intriguing traits is the panorama capability, which blends several images into a circular view.
New proponents to Google+ seem to be divulged almost weekly. With the continued additions to its massive suite of platforms, Google+ has drastically propelled its movement into the social media sphere. And the updates are not stopping. Google+ is making it clear that it will keep the social networking universe attentive throughout 2013.