Google+

Boom, Google did it again. The company recently announced 41 exciting new features to the Google+ social networking platform in three main areas: Stream, Hangouts and Photos. These enhancements make sharing content a lot easier and the all-round Google+ experience increasingly intuitive regardless of the device being used.

To make sure you get the most out of the new features, here’s my guide to the new look Google+

Stream

Multi-column layout – depending on your screen size and orientation you’ll get two or three columns. Images and videos now fill the whole width of the stream making it easier on the eye.

Automatic hashtags – if your post is about a popular topic Google will recognise this and apply an appropriate tag. Just click on the tag to see related content, simples. The feature can also be turned off if it annoys you.

Animations – the stream is alive with sliding menus and flipping cards, making the whole experience more interactive and less flat.

Tip: to change to one column, select ‘stream layout’ from the ‘more’ drop-down menu (at the top of the screen). Also, use J to scroll down and K to scroll up.

Hangouts

Conversations across devices – you can access your conversations on desktop, Android and iOS. Simply continue your mobile chat on your tablet or laptop when you get home.

Improved messaging – with the new version you can combine text, photo and live video when hanging out, plus you have access to hundreds of emoji. (WhatsApp is looking very dated all of a sudden.)

Store conversations – you can go back in time and relive chats you’ve had or choose to turn off history if you don’t want to dwell in the past.

Tip: You can stop notifications from popping up during a Hangout by going to ‘settings’ and selecting ‘off’.

Photos

Autofix – when sharing a photo you can easily enhance it with one click. I think it works quite well and saves time by removing the need for any kind of image editor.

Photo highlights – Google will scan your photos and decide which ones to emphasise, favouring photos with friends, family or famous landmarks while neglecting duplicates and blurry images.

Instant upload – when snapping photos with your mobile, Google automatically backs them up. You now have 15GB combined free storage between Google+ Photos, Gmail and Drive.

Tip: When uploading a sequence of photos Google creates an animated GIF for you. Awesomeness!

Google has introduced some fantastic new features making the user experience a whole lot smoother and more intuitive. It has been criticised by many to resemble the layout of Facebook and Pinterest too closely, but give it a try and decide for yourself.