Skip to main content

Google+ completely redesigned, now automatically enhances photos and highlights your best shots

Google+ completely redesigned, now automatically enhances photos and highlights your best shots

Share this story

Google+ Stream redesign press
Google+ Stream redesign press

Just over a year since the last major redesign to Google+, Senior Vice President Vic Gundotra has revealed at I/O 2013 that the search company is completely reworking the layout of its social network. It will be available later today. The new design bears resemblance to the rather attractive layout Google+ adopted for its iPad and Android tablet apps last June: a three column-wide grid of cards replaces the long list of posts, photos, and comments that currently makes up the Google+ Stream, and high-resolution photos and videos take up the full screen width. There will also be an option to switch to a one-column view. By exposing visitors to more visual content at once, Google is likely hoping that users will find something that intrigues them quicker.

The redesign doesn't just feature a new layout for your Google+ stream — the company has also worked to turn the website into more of a proper app instead of a website. The redesign includes some very nifty animations that should serve to make using the social network a bit more fun. For example, clicking on a card flips it over to reveal comments. When you want to write a new post, clicking a button on the top right flies a window onto your screen to let you compose.

Part of the spruced-up Google+ is focused on hashtags. Hashtags have been expanded, and the social network will automatically scan your updates to add relevant links (you can disable the feature if you'd like). Google is also able to scan photos you upload, like one of the Eiffel Tower, and tag it appropriately.

What's more important than a new coat of paint (even if it is nice paint) for Google+ is the suite of photo features the company has announced today for its social network.

"Auto Awesome creates a new image from something that didn't exist."

First, Google plans to automatically make your pictures better. A feature called Auto Enhance will analyze and apply tweaks to your uploaded photos. From what we've heard on stage, this will include simple adjustments like brightness, contrast, color correction, noise reduction, tonal distribution, and saturation, but it will also make some more intensive changes. One demonstration showed how Google detects faces and will automatically blur out skin there to hide zits, for instance. Going off of the few examples we've seen, the feature looks quite effective, but it might be overzealous. All of the adjustments are non-destructive and you can disable Auto Enhance if you like. If you are looking at a photo that you upload you can look at before and after shots to decide if you want to use the feature.

There's also something called "Auto Awesome." By detecting the kinds of photos you take, Google is going to try to make other improvements. For example, if you upload a series of similar photos taken in a short period of time Google will automatically make an animated GIF out of it. If you upload a set of group photos it will stitch together one picture so that everyone is smiling. It will also make auto panoramas and HDR photos if you upload the right kinds of pictures.

Auto_awesome_gif

The company is also going to pick out the best ones out of everything you've uploaded. By using algorithms, a feature called Auto Highlight will skip over blurry photos, duplicates, and underexposed shots, for instance, and choose the "best" photos to show off. Ideally, you'll be able to upload 600 pictures from your vacation straight to Google+ and not worry about having to sift through and pick the best ones to share.

Lastly, in addition to all the photo features, Google's heavily-rumored unified messaging service, Hangouts, is integrated into the Google+ redesign. Google is releasing Hangout apps for Android, iOS, and Chrome (as well as integration with Gmail). Instead of a mess of Google Talk, Google Messenger, and Video Hangouts, it's all streamlined across platforms — a much overdue change. Read much more on the new unified Google Hangouts here.

Google is clearly leveraging its massive cloud capabilities to try to make Google+ the best home for photos online — and attract users to a social network that's struggled to carve out its own niche in a world of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Most of the changes are focused on making uploading and sharing photos — a very tedious task — less painful. The company has already introduced photo-friendly features like unlimited uploads for photos under 2048-pixels wide, a fullscreen picture viewer, and 15GB of free space for photos that break that limit, and with all of the additions today it looks like the company has put together a very compelling package.

Read next: Google+ shifts the focus to better photos and big data

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 33 minutes ago The tablet didn’t call that play by itself

R
The Verge
Richard Lawler33 minutes ago
Teen hacking suspect linked to GTA 6 leak and Uber security breach charged in London.

City of London police tweeted Saturday that the teenager arrested on suspicion of hacking has been charged with “two counts of breach of bail conditions and two counts of computer misuse.”

They haven’t confirmed any connection with the GTA 6 leak or Uber hack, but the details line up with those incidents, as well as a suspect arrested this spring for the Lapsus$ breaches.


R
The Verge
Richard LawlerTwo hours ago
Green light.

Good morning to everyone, except for the intern or whoever prevented us from seeing how Microsoft’s Surface held up to yet another violent NFL incident.

Today’s big event is the crash of a NASA spaceship this evening — on purpose. Mary Beth Griggs can explain.


D
David PierceTwo hours ago
Thousands and thousands of reasons people love Android.

“Android fans, what are the primary reasons why you will never ever switch to an iPhone?” That question led to almost 30,000 comments so far, and was for a while the most popular thing on Reddit. It’s a totally fascinating peek into the platform wars, and I’ve spent way too much time reading through it. I also laughed hard at “I can turn my text bubbles to any color I like.”


Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
T
Thomas Ricker10:44 AM UTC
The Simpsons pays tribute to Chrome’s dino game.

Season 34 of The Simpsons kicked off on Sunday night with an opening credits “couch gag” based on the offline dino game from Google’s Chrome browser. Cactus, cactus, couch, d’oh! Perfect.


T
Youtube
Thomas Ricker7:29 AM UTC
Table breaks before Apple Watch Ultra’s sapphire glass.

”It’s the most rugged and capable Apple Watch yet,” said Apple at the launch of the Apple Watch Ultra (read The Verge review here). YouTuber TechRax put that claim to the test with a series of drop, scratch, and hammer tests. Takeaways: the titanium case will scratch with enough abuse, and that flat sapphire front crystal is tough — tougher than the table which cracks before the Ultra fails — but not indestructible.


E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 25
Rihanna’s headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Apple Music’s set to sponsor the Halftime Show next February, and it’s starting out strong with a performance from Rihanna. I honestly can’t remember which company sponsored the Halftime Show before Pepsi, so it’ll be nice to see how Apple handles the show for Super Bowl LVII.


E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 25
Starlink is growing.

The Elon Musk-owned satellite internet service, which covers all seven continents including Antarctica, has now made over 1 million user terminals. Musk has big plans for the service, which he hopes to expand to cruise ships, planes, and even school buses.

Musk recently said he’ll sidestep sanctions to activate the service in Iran, where the government put restrictions on communications due to mass protests. He followed through on his promise to bring Starlink to Ukraine at the start of Russia’s invasion, so we’ll have to wait and see if he manages to bring the service to Iran as well.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 25
We might not get another Apple event this year.

While Apple was initially expected to hold an event to launch its rumored M2-equipped Macs and iPads in October, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman predicts Apple will announce its new devices in a series of press releases, website updates, and media briefings instead.

I know that it probably takes a lot of work to put these polished events together, but if Apple does pass on it this year, I will kind of miss vibing to the livestream’s music and seeing all the new products get presented.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.