Big changes are on the way for the Google+ platform, which is rolling out a redesign and new social engagement features over the next week. Unveiled at this morning's Google I/O conference in San Francisco, the new Google+ will deliver a modernized stream and new social discovery experience to its 190 million active "Plus-ers."
For current Google+ users, the changes are certainly something to be excited about. Streams are about to become more dynamic and beautiful, and Google is getting smarter about helping you discover more content you'd be interested in based on what type of content you're posting. Plus, the platform is introducing powerful photo editing and photo storage tools to manage your media.
Even if you're not on Google+, take notice because the platform is playing an increasingly important role in search, website log-ins, and other Google products like Maps and Gmail.
See how Google's relatively new social network is about to look totally different (in a good way) after the break.
Both mobile and web users will see a new stylish stream that's "less flat," with larger images that match profiles' recently introduced large-and-in-charge cover photos, and animations as they navigate different parts of the page. For example, clicking "share what's new" will shuffle all the posts in the stream and the share box will bounce to the front and center of the page.
Photo Editing and Storage
Some of the most noteworthy features of the new Google+ are the powerful photo editing tools. Auto-enhance (working its magic in the image above) uses skin softening, tonal balancing, color correcting, and contrast, among others, to turn amateur images into professional photography. "Auto-awesome" is another feature that animates photos shot in burst mode or in quick succession. GIF-tastic!
The "Highlight" feature is the most mysterious — but magical! — announcement of the bunch. From all of your vacation photos, Google will choose the best based on image quality (blurry? duplicates?), who's in the photo (using facial recognition), and affinity (a crazy algorithm based on millions of image ratings to determine what is beautiful and which people you want to see in your photo library).
Posting on Google+ is similar to Twitter and Tumblr in that users can add hashtags to their content to make it more discoverable or to add it to an ongoing topic of conversation. Hashtags are getting a lot of love in the Google+ update with a new "related hashtags" feature that helps users dig a little deeper into the things they like to do. After clicking on a post's hashtag, the card swivels around and displays other relevant hashtags (#SFGiants will lead you to #MLB, for example) and more content tagged under that topic. Even if a post isn't marked with a tag, Google can identify popular points of interest in an image (like, say, the Eiffel Tower) and even suggest tags. Features can be disabled in correspondence with a user's privacy settings.
Do the Google+ changes tempt you to switch social networks once and for all?