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Vic Gundorta, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Google, took to the stage this morning to present a 'morning with Google+'.

Basically a Press event announcing 18 new features in Google+. The features and enhancements are impressive.

 

He started with some stats, as every Press conference should:

  • there are 540 million '30 day-active users' across Google products
  • 300 million of those users access Google+ streams
  • 1.5bn photos are added to Google+ each week

Next, the updates to the product:

Firstly, some work on G+ Hangouts. The app now supports location sharing, animated gifs, and integration with text messaging (so no need to jump in and out of apps). I assume the text messaging feature will not be available on the iOS App as Apple do not allow third parties access to SMS messaging.

The desktop version of Hangouts (in Google+) includes new features to plan a Hangout, provide a dedicated landing page, and tools to manage users during the Hangout. Video quality now defaults to HD across all the Hangout apps.

The remainder of the presentation was given over to image and video editing. I think it is fair to say a technically astounding set of features were demonstrated.

The next iOS Google+ application will finally support background backup of images and videos, bringing it in line with the Android app.

Google+ will have better photo highlight to pick out the best of your photos, helping you focus on top quality images. The poor, out of focus shots are still there but are hidden to start with. There is an enhanced "computer vision algorithm" giving you phenomenal image searching with no prior tagging of images. Google use sophisticated techniques to recognised people, places and objects to deliver search results.

Google continue to invest in their recently acquired Snapseed App. It has a new 'HDR Scape' filter using pixel-edge contrast to give you an HDR type image at the touch of a button.

Auto awesome, recently introduced to Google+, has been upgraded. As well as selecting the best shot, or creating a merged image using a collection of images, it now has 'action' and 'eraser'. These need to be seen to fully appreciate the technology however Action combines several shots into one action-shot; Eraser removes objects/people from an image to give you a more pleasing picture -- again automatically.

Google+ action shot, merging several images

Google+ action shot, merging several images

Video uploading has seen a 20 times increase so 'auto-awesome' is coming to movies too -- auto merge images; videos; select music; image stabilisation; mix still and moving images and have Google+ automatically time the transitions to musical changes.

The new editing features are truly astounding and really need to be seen to understand the power behind them. Best of all Google confirm these new features are all available today, and for free!

Watch the video of the live stream (note, it starts 12 mis 30 seconds in as they had a power cut so the stream was delayed!)

Go on, Google+ ... It's more than just a social network :-)

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