Google’s Vic Gundotra held A Morning With Google+ earlier today, and used the time to talk about a whole host of new features coming to Google+.
They started with a short segment on Google Hangouts. Location sharing has been an oft-requested feature for them, and they’ll be bringing that to the platform. Also coming to Google+ are animated GIFs, which apparently some people have been asking for; I’m not sure I really like this, but it’ll be interesting to see how they handle them.
One big piece of Hangouts news that I definitely do like is that we’ll be getting SMS integrated into Hangouts. I think I am probably the last holdout on the planet who pretty much never texts, ever, largely because I rarely remember to carry my phone with me. The ability to text without actually having to use my phone will do a LOT to encourage me to use SMS. The added convenience will be good for everyone else, too.
Hangouts on Air
Hangouts on Air are improving as well. You’ll be able to schedule a Hangout on Air in advance, which will create an event-specific landing page that people can be directed to so they can find your hangout. There will also be additional conference management tools available while conducting the hangout, for bringing people in and out of the hangout, and you’ll be able to go full-screen during video Hangouts across all devices. This is going to be fantastic for video calls! They also mentioned that many Auto-Awesome features we’ve previously seen in Photos will be coming to live Hangouts, though we’ll have to wait and see exactly what that means.
Photography & Videography
Google’s fascination with photography really came through, with a lot of amazing features for photographers that are also making their way to videos. First off, they’re bringing full-size photo backup and sync to iOS, which is good news for anyone getting frustrated with iCloud. They also revealed that there are 1,000 new words that Google+ can recognize in photos. These are search terms you can use to go through your photos (or your friends’ photos, permissions permitting) so that you can automatically find that amazing picture you took of your girlfriend in front of the Eiffel Tower, for instance, without all the hassle of actually tagging every picture you’ve ever taken. They did also specifically point out that they’re conscious of privacy concerns, and so this ability to search friends’ photos strictly obeys all privacy settings, so if you have pictures that haven’t been shared, your friends won’t be searching them.
They showed off some improvements to Auto-Enhance for photos, and talked quite about about Snapseed, Google’s mobile app for iOS and Android that adds a lot of great features for photographers. They’ve added a new HDR Scape feature that uses pixel-edge contrast technique to create HDR photos from any image. Pixel-edge contrast is not commonly used, as it is much more computationally expensive than pixel brightness, the more typical feature implemented in other apps.
Auto-Awesome is getting improved as well. They’re adding two new types; Auto-Awesome Action, which combines several images into a single static image that shows fast-action in a single image.
The other new Auto-Awesome is Eraser, which can remove extraneous moving elements from a series of images, leaving only what you want to see.
Also new is Auto-Awesome Movie, which is just stunning in concept. It aims to do for movies what Auto-Awesome already does for photos. It can stabilize shaky video, take several related videos and cut and combine them together, effectively editing them for you, incorporate photos taken at the same time and place, even choose music appropriate for the action and time the action to the music. There’s also a manual flow mode where you can select some movies and photos and say “Google, make me a movie out of this stuff,” and it will.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I sat down to watch the presentation this morning, but was it ever worth it. These changes to Google+ are rolling out today, so you may already have access to this. If you don’t, hang in there, sometimes these things take time.
If you want to check out the whole Morning with Google+, the video is below.