Google + just came out guns blazing, announcing 18 new features to its platform that should have Facebook, and even Instagram and Vine worried.
Google’s head of social Vic Gundotra unveiled the new features at an Apple style, Google + event in San Francisco this morning, which was live streamed over Youtube, and of course as a Google Hangout. He also announced the official usage figures for Google +, saying the platform now had 300 million monthly active users.
There were some noteworthy updates to Google Hangouts, which included:
– A location sharing button
– The option to create landing pages to plan and invite people to Hangout meetings
– The introduction of HD video for Google Hangouts across all platforms and devices
– Some more fun options for Hangout video, including black and white filters, blurred background settings and the ability to post animated GIFs in the conversation. (watchout Buzzfeed!)
However, the most eye catching new features were for multimedia in Google +. The platform now has a wide array of editing features for users to apply to their photographs, ranging from easy and intuitive for novices, to expert editing suites for pros. It also has “auto enhance” options which beautify the images with a single click. The demonstration showed off the spooky way in which Google’s algorithms act like real human beings, with the ability to spot, identify visual problems and correct them, just like any human editor.
Other great editing features included “Erase” where you can remove moving or blurred objects from pictures, and “Action” which stitches together a sequence of a action images
What was even more impressive was the new enhanced search function. Users can search through their albums for particular photos using text search terms such as “sunset,” “dog,” “waterfall” or “jumping”, and Google will pull up those results without the images having to be tagged or labelled with any text.
Finally, Google introduced “Auto Awesome Movies,” a stunning feature that automatically takes a wide selection of your pictures and movies and edits them together to create a video, complete with timed editing to a soundtrack that utilizes one of the hundreds of songs Google has licensed for use. Check out the demo below:
This means amateur photographers can easily create and share high quality home videos or their own creative video productions. Suddenly Facebook’s array of static pictures and videos look pretty boring. Now instead of posting an entire album of pictures from your vacation, you can post a single, high quality, short video of your trip. And while you can choose to manually edit the video yourself, most of the time, you would be able to use the automatically created video Google has made for your viewing pleasure.
Of all the features, the Auto-Awesome video might be the one that finally catapults Google + out of the engagement doldrums it’s been in compared to Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn. With the ability to create and share great looking video instantly, Google + is also taking on Vine and Instagram, except you have more editing options, better quality, and longer video. Although their uses might end up being different, it isn’t inconceivable to see Google + taking a huge bite out of that user base.