Google has announced a major facelift for its Google+ social networking site. The new interface focuses on customization, automatic photo enhancing features, Google’s Hangout video chatting service, and new features that make it easier to discover new content like conversations and new profile pages.
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.
Part of the new Google+ focus is on hashtags, they’ve been expanded and the service will automatically scan your updates to add relevant links. (The feature can be disabled if you don’t care for it.) The service can even scan photos that are uploaded, say photos of the Empire State Building, and tag them appropriately.
Google is also working to make uploaded photos better, with a feature called Auto Enhance that will analyze and apply tweaks to uploaded photos. While the adjustments will include simple ones, such as brightness, contrast, color correction, noise reduction, tonal distribution, and saturation, it will also make changes like blurring skin to hide imperfections like zits and wrinkles. The adjustments are non-destructive, and you can disable the feature if you prefer.
Other new photo features include “Auto Awesome,” where if Google detects a series of similar photos taken in a short burst of time, it will automatically create an automated GIF from the pics. It can even make everyone in a photo smile, which is a little creepy and Joker-ish IMHO. It can also stitch together panoramas, and create HDR photos if it sees some photos it can use.
Hangouts is also heavily integrated into the Google+ revamp, so many of the features included in the new Hangouts app for iOS and Android are included.
These and numerous other changes for Google+ will be available starting today.