Google+ has struggled to compete with other social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, but some important visual updates from Google’s annual I/O developers’ conference in San Francisco may change that equation.
TechCrunch reports that the social network has announced 41 updates to its platform, including a newer layout, improved Google+ Hangouts features and probably the most eye-catching update of all, an enhanced Google+ Photos.
The most visible change to Google+ is its layout. The stream is now divided into two columns, and posts focus less on text and more on bigger, sharper images. This brings out a cleaner, simpler look. The layout also bears some similarities to Facebook’s current timeline, right down to the bigger cover photo.
Google+’s new layout includes a Share box on the top left of the stream, where users can easily share links, updates, photos and more. The Hangouts feature has greater prominence in the stream as well.
Besides the new layout, Google+ is now a sort of photo studio in the clouds thanks to the new Google+ Photos feature. It will automate the photo editing process by picking the best ones from your batch uploads and weed out blurry photos, photos with bad exposure and duplicates. For the remaining photos, Google+ Photos can automatically color correct, remove noise, sharpen certain aspects of the image and soften skin. Instead of taking hours to edit photos, the new Google+ Photos automated editing process only takes seconds.
Besides automating the photo editing process, Google+ Photos now has a feature called “Awesome” that can automatically detect whether a group of photos are part of a series and then create an animated GIF from them. “Awesome” can also stitch together similar landscape images into a panorama.
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