Google hosted an event today in which they announced several new updates to Google+ and Hangouts. While we unfortunately didn’t see the Nexus 5, we did see quite a few new things that are going to be great!
Before getting into Google’s updates, they announced that Google+ has now acheived 540 million monthly users of Google+ and over 300 million people active “in the stream”. That secures their spot as the second largest social network right behind Facebook (for now). If you haven’t tried Google+ I highly suggest you check it out.
Hangouts received a few new updates making the service even better than it already has been. When Google announced Hangouts, it brought some new features that everyone loved, but removed a few that have been asked to return. It also lacked a feature that everyone wanted. Google update Hangouts not too long ago bringing back status indicators and some other requested features, but didn’t bring the most requested feature, SMS integration. The upcoming Hangouts update for Android will bring that long-awaited feature. The app also received native support for animated GIF images and location sharing. With a single tap of a button you can share your location on a map with the conversation.
Hangouts on Air also received some new features and improvements. Broadcasters can now schedule Hangouts On Air and promote them via a dedicated watch page. During the Hangout you also get access to a special Control Room that let’s you moderate and even mute members of the conversation. Quality is also improved with new features that allow the app (across all platforms) to enhance lighting automatically.
Google+ Photos And Videos
The Google+ team has put a lot of emphasis on photography since Google I/O with their new technologies that automatically determine the best edits for your pictures. During the event they expanded even more on that functionality as well as some new features. One of the first notable upcoming features is background sync on the iOS platform, a feature that was previously only on Android due to restrictions of the iOS system. Auto Enhance, which automatically edits your photos to enhance their quality, now receives the welcome option to dial the level at which the feature edits the photo.
Some new features were also added to Google’s award-winning photo-editing app Snapseed and their desktop photo-editing program The Nik Collection.
Auto-Awesome, which takes chronological pictures and combines them into a animated GIF image, also received additional functionality. Three new features were added including Action, Eraser, and Movie.
Action creates a strobe-effect photo by determining when an action is happening and combining the photos. It does not however, overlap actions. If that happens the newest photo will be in normal resolution while the images from the past will be “ghosted” out.
Eraser, my personal favorite, removes objects it recognizes as not the focus of the image. Using a series of shots, Google+ will automatically remove almost every subject resulting in a cleaner image. As you can see above, this photo was taken in a busy downtown with dozens of people around, and Google+ automatically recognizes that they did not need to be there.
Movie is another incredible functionality added to Google+. It automatically produces a “highlight reel” complete with effects, transitions, and most unbelievably, a soundtrack. You do however have control of the movie if you choose too.
All these features will be available this week with Hangouts improvements rolling out soon. The Hangouts app for Android may be updated along with several other in preparation for Android 4.4 KitKat.
Pictures Credit The Official Google Blog