Google+ is celebrating 190 million active users with a redesign! During the Google IO 2013 conference, Google announced 41 features and enhancement additions to the social platform. These updates are concentrated in three areas: the social stream, photos, and Hangouts.
With a multi-column design, the new social stream looks similar to a cross between the Facebook timeline and Pinterest. The social stream is also customizable, so users view posts from others in a variety of ways.
To accentuate the new social stream design, the left-hand navigation bar is now collapsed into the Home tab at the top of the page. With more content on the page, plussers will have the ability to seek content in a more user-friendly space.
Google+ also announced Related Hashtags to automatically tag posts with relevant hashtags. While cool, the idea that Google will be reviewing every post to attach a hashtag the user has no intention of applying, it may raise concerns for privacy.
Speaking of hashtags, if a user attaches one to an image, it will appear at the top right of the post in a gray bar. When clicked, the tiled posts flip like a baseball card to display any related information on the back.
To see the social stream in action: http://youtu.be/vF5RovO5R8w
Facebook has Instagram. Twitter now has its own photo filters. Google+ announced, what Google’s senior vice president, Vic Gundotra, deems “your new darkroom,” with the 4 autos: Auto Backup, Auto Highlight, Auto Enhance, and Auto Awesome.
With Google expanding the free data storage comes the Auto Backup feature, which automatically backs up photos from smartphones to Google’s cloud storage. This is great for those who forget to manually backup their photos, however, the free backup space is limited to 15GB.
With Auto Highlight, Google can select the best photos of you by removing blurry images, duplicates, and poor exposures. Google believes this takes some work out of sharing our photos by doing so and has already begun to implement Auto Highlight.
What happens on the Internet stays on the Internet, including photos. Naturally, we always go to select the pictures we think we look best in– the slight crow’s feet that I am insistent that I have despite my avid moisturizing cannot be in any photo that goes onto the Internet– so Google added the Auto Enhance feature. Users have the ability to turn off Auto Enhance, however, with it on, all a user has to do is upload a photo and Google will adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation, etc. for better photos.
The last new addition to the photo ensemble is Auto Awesome. Like ripping off a band–aid, it is better to get the name out of the way quickly, so you can focus on how cool this feature actually is. Google’s description of Auto Awesome is this: “Sometimes we’ll create brand new image based on a set of photos in your library.” Whoa, but, it gets better: Google can animate photos automatically. Additionally, “if you send us a few family portraits, we’ll find everyone’s best smile, and stitch them together into a single shot. Likewise with panoramas, filmstrips, and a whole lot more.”
Google has really outdone themselves with the photo features, but the most interesting update comes in the form of Hangouts.
Hangouts have always been a cool feature that businesses have used to connect with consumers in an interesting way. Whether it was the Muppets Hangout Launch Commercial or Zagat Hangout with Wilson Phillips, Hangouts are one of the best features on Google+.
While nothing has changed in the core functions of Hangouts, still only 10 users can be supported while others can join the chat, Hangouts includes Google Chat and Google+ Messenger for a unified, cross platform experience.
Hangouts also have its own mobile app, available now from Google Play, the App Store, and the Chrome Web Store. By combining video, photo and text across devices, and the cloud save function in Hangouts, the experience will be taken to the next level.
Authored by: Alexandra Gormann, Digital Strategy Coordinator
Google IO 2013 After Thoughts
Now that Google IO is over, it is time to think long and hard about how to apply the tools provided so we can create new opportunities for our client.
Geofencing is not available through Android Location Services, which means it is time to consider how to promote products from a location sensitive perspective. As a result to a heightened level of location awareness, users are more likely to engage with a promotion, which can boost coupon redemption because of the enhanced relevance and timeliness. With so many new opportunities to engage users, it is important to exercise the creative muscles and craft experiences that emphasize convenience and utility.
Another exciting development that Google has been working on is the integration of schema.org standards into their web interface. Now, when marketing to Gmail users, we have the option to create direct links and other actions through buttons next to the subject line before the user even opens the email. With the ability to tailor the Gmail experience, we can reach users without the need for open clicks!
Authored by: Jason Brewster, Junior Technical Strategist