If you’re a Google+ user, you’ve no doubt learned that Google’s social networking service has seen some serious updates in the past couple of weeks. In fact, they added eighteen new features before Christmas.
Now that we’ve had some time to see them in action, let’s talk about what those additions are and how they might affect you.
New Photo Sharing Features
The Instant Upload Tool has seen some improvement and works much better, especially on mobile devices. Photo spheres are also available to mobile users now, making them much more accessible all the way around.
Probably the best thing, however, is Google’s addition of unlimited standard-sized photo backups when uploaded through the IUT. Full-sized photo backups are still limited to 5GB unless you pay for higher data storage access in Google Drive.
Animated GIFs should now work in all Android types and Google has integrated Google Now with G+ so that birthdays and such can send notifications.
New Additions for Mobile
If you’re an Android user accessing G+, then you’ve definitely seen things improve in a big way. Mobile users can now edit their profile on the fly, have a much easier time posting, and can be more choosy about what they are notified about. All of these are excellent upgrades for the on-the-go G+er.
For most of us accessing via mobile, the greatest change has been Google’s improved posting abilities. Although the setup uses Android’s built-in, intuitive touch and gesturing, overall the posting options and setup work very much like they do for those accessing G+ with a notebook or computer. Sharing, reposting, and so forth are much easier now and more reliable.
Although it can take some time to set up the perfect options, having the ability to strictly (or loosely) control content notifications is a great time saver once it’s in place. I would suggest doing the initial setup on a notebook or tablet for easier navigation, though.
New Hangout Options
Probably the best improvement here is for low bandwidth connections, which will see smoother video and much better audio. Gone are the choppy screencasts for slower connections or for those connecting during high-usage times. This is a boon for emerging markets where Internet access is often slower.
One-on-one Hangouts are much better now as Google has changed the way they operate. If you’re the only one watching, the “filmstrip” of other watchers isn’t there, freeing up more screen real estate so the video feed can be larger. If you use Hangouts for collaboration or individual tutoring/training, this is great.