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New Google+ Features Explained

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Google has announced today 41 changes across three major areas on their social platform Google+ at there first Keynote session today.

The major areas Google+ will be focusing on are:

  1. A new look stream
  2. A new hangouts application
  3. A fundamentally new photo experience

 

1) The Stream:

Google+ are fixing the appearance of the”flat” looking never-ending newspaper stream which seems so common place on many of the social networks we see today. Googles new look stream will be completely about design and depth.

The new multi column design will be completely customisable from one to three columns which will allow the user to interact and taking in lots of content quickly. Posts, videos and photos will span across columns to really give the user an immersive experience.

Google+ will feature some incredible depth controls through the use of new feature called related hash tags. Related hash tags will analyse the content of each post and automatically assign the appropriate hash tag to the content you have uploaded. Once a user clicks on the provided hash tag Google will automatically search the entire Google+ worldwide database to bring you content which relates to your post. The results will be ranked by your social links with others and your current location so you always are provided with content which is relevant.

In the example above, the Eiffel Tower is automatically assigned a related hash tag due to a combination of image analysis and a Google’s powerful knowledge graph. The amazing thing is Google is now able to recognise important landmarks making tagging photos a breeze. If you click the related hash tag on the post Google+ will automatically show you images and posts that relate to the content your looking at.

The related hash tag feature is optional so if you don’t want to assign a hash tag to a photo you don’t have to. Some other features included in new stream will be:

  • Delightful Animations
  • Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
  • Awesome-sized media
  • Dynamically sized cards
  • Recommended Posts
  • and lots more!

2) Hangouts

Hangouts

Computers should get out-of-the-way, so you can get on with the things that matter in life: learning, living, and loving.

Google believes it has built a product which builds lasting conversations with the people who you love and care about. Hangouts are an essential tool on Google+ as they allow any user to connect with the rest of the world face to face. You may notice the new icon which I think reflects the innovation this product brings to the telecommunications industry.

Once you have installed and opened up the app on your phone or web device the screen will show a list of previous conversations which you have had. Unlike a normal conversation where we tend to forget important details, Google+ will allow you to go back in time to see previous engagements you may have had with your family, friends or even work colleagues. Adding someone to a conversation is very easy, all it takes is a small swipe and click. Google do give you the option to opt out or even delete individual content from any conversation so you can keep your conversations private and personal. I think one of the best features in a conversation would have to be the way photos are displayed. Each photo appears in its own photo album, which will make searching for that one photo a whole lot easier!

The new hangout platform will work on the web, Andriod and IOS from later today. During conversations you will also have the ability to click the video button at the top which will drop all the people into a video hangout so you can chat face to face.

Group Video in a Hangout

3) Photos

Photography can be very labour intensive, it takes time to enhance, organise and upload all your images which can really be a waste of time. Google believes it can help save you time by combining your own camera with their Cloud.

If you do this Google will automatically sort, edit and upload your images for you which will save you a whole lot of time and effort.  So in other the once labour intensive darkroom in now your easy flow data centre.

Your darkroom is now a datacenter

Google’s Cloud is no longer just the backup. The Cloud now has three more exciting areas which form the new digital darkroom for your photography. The new areas which will be released later today are Highlight, Enhance and Awesome.

Highlight

In simple terms Google’s new cloud feature, Highlight will be able to pick the best photos for you out of a larger set of photos.

Google Highlight

The way it is able to narrow down the search is by applying the following filters:

  • Blurry Images are discarded
  • Duplicates are discarded
  • Bad exposed photos are discarded
  • Landmarks are recognised and Google will actually boost these photos to save them in your highlights
  • People are recognised and are automatically saved to your highlights
  • Aesthetics is measured by literally hundreds upon hundreds of previous human raters. The machine learning algorithms are now able to factor in human taste. If a photo has pleasing aesthetics then it will be saved in the highlight selection.
  • Affinity will recognise your family connections and automatically boost them straight to the highlight selection.

Google Cloud - Highlight

Once you have clicked the Highlight button Google will show a clean selected view of your highlighted images.

To view the rest of the photos the user simply needs to click is a button in the bottom right hand side of the screen.

Google Photos - Highlight

Enhance

Auto Enhance is an easy button to make your photos look beautiful.

The way Google is able to make a photo look amazing is by automatically adjusting things like:

  • Tonal Distribution
  • Skin Softening
  • Noise Reduction
  • Structure
  • White Balance
  • Vignette
  • Sharpening
  • Red Eye Removal
  • and lots more…

An example showing automatic noise reduction being applied to an image

To apply enhance to a photograph all you need to do is hover your mouse over the photo and click on the enhanced button. Clicking will toggle between the before and after views. The user will have complete control over the auto enhance tool in the More Tab where you will be able to turn the feature on or off. Enhance can be applied globally to all your photos or just to a single image.

Google Photos Auto Enhance

Auto Awesome

Auto Awesome is a feature which recognises a series of images you have captured using your camera’s burst mode. Once recognised it will make a duplicate of the selected photos and creates a ‘gift’ for you which appears in your Cloud. Once opened the auto awesome feature will speak for itself…you just have to give it a go!

NB: Google have already gone through your albums and will have a ‘gifted’ version of your photos waiting for you.

Google Auto Awesome

Google Auto Awesome

Awesome doesn’t stop there! Google have created five more awesome features (I’ve always wanted to say that); Mix, HDR, Smile, Motion and Pano.

Google Auto Awesome

So overall I think these features will certainly make a big difference to my own Google+ experience. I’m exciting to learn more about the other features later in the day.

You can watch Google’s full keynote address here.


 

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