Google gives the gift of 24 new features for Google+

google-plus-logo

With the holidays just around the corner, Google is in a giving mood. The Internet giant announced today 24 new features being added to its Google+ Android and iOS apps, Google Hangouts, and its Google+ Web app. There’s really something for everyone, “[w]hether you’re an iPhone or Android addict, a budding broadcaster, or the resident party planner,” Google Vice President of Engineer Dave Besbris writes. Here is a quick rundown of the most significant new features.

Google+ Android app

google plus android update

Let’s start with the Android app: Users can now edit their profiles within the app. Publishing new content is now even easier than before, thanks to streamlined functionalities. And Google+ is finally taking a page from its competitors, Facebook and Twitter, with a notification alerting users to new posts from their circles. Users can also individually subscribe to notifications from their circles.

The update also integrates Google+ Communities, which is Google’s take on Facebook Groups, and helps drive interaction between users. Google+ members can now publish their own posts, comment, and consume the content published by other community members from an Android mobile device.

If you’ve been using Google Instant to automatically upload photos taken from your smartphone, take heed: Google is dropping unlimited photo storage of photos, but will no longer restrict the size of images that can be uploaded. Free storage is now limited to 5GB. Google’s Photo Sphere feature will now be supported on Google+, so users can enjoy creating 360 degree panoramic photos and uploading the images onto their profiles. Note that, to use Photo Sphere, you’ll need to upgrade to Android 4.2; and to see these images, you’ll need any device that has Froyo or later installed.

Other more minor additions to the Android app are emoticons called “moods,” support for animated GIFs (because who doesn’t enjoy a GIF), birthday reminders by way of Google Now, and a lock screen widget.

Google+ iOS app

google plus ios update

As for the Google+ iOS app, users can now “swipe through photo albums inline,” and tap on the photo to expand for full-screen viewing. The final update here is a new “subtle pan-zoom-scale effect” for users viewing photos. New “conversation cards” will also be rolled out, and these updates include longer snippets, larger photos, and comments that “slide in beneath each post.”

Google+ Events

google events update

If you’re looking to organize events during your holidays, Google+ Events now offers the features to make it a reliable platform for organizing those get-togethers. Event organizers can now send messages to select guests, while seeing who has opened up the invitation. Sending these invitations can happen one or more of two ways: Organizers can send invitations through Google+, or send the URL of the event through any channel, like IM, email, or even Facebook. Now RSVPs will include a request for the number of guests that the invitees plan to bring. And as an added bonus, the event can be duplicated and auto-filled, should organizers want to plan similar events in the future.

Hangouts

Hangouts is also getting two upgrades. The group video chat feature will now only require 150KB of bandwidth, meaning that you can hang out with anyone around the world regardless of the quality of their Internet connection.

google hangouts full screen

Finally, if you’re a frequent user of Google Hangouts on Air – Google’s live stream broadcast feature – Google is removing the thumbnail of your video feed if you’re the only person in the Hangout. The video will now be expanded to its full-screen glory, doing away with the waste of white space that used to appear when you were the only person with a streaming video feed in Hangouts.

Mobile

Google Maps will now help drivers stay within speed limits, avoid speed traps

Google Maps will now start showing speed limits and speed camera locations, so that drivers will not be flagged for speeding tickets. The new features arrive to the app years after they were introduced in Waze.
Computing

Cortana wants to be friends with Alexa and Google Assistant

Microsoft no longer wants to compete against Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant in the digital assistant space. Instead, it wants to transform Cortana into a skill that can be integrated into other digital assistants.
Mobile

Android Q: Everything we know so far about Google’s next mobile OS

Android Pie recently rolled out, but it's already time to look ahead to Android Q, the next version of Google's mobile OS. We've seen a number of rumors and leaks come out about the operating system -- here's everything we know so far.
Computing

Google is giving its G Suite web apps new touches of visual improvements

Your G Suite applications will soon have a different look. Several of the web apps are getting updated with subtle visual improvements inspired by Google's Material Design guidelines. 
Social Media

No yolk! A photo of an egg has become the most-liked post on Instagram

Until this weekend, the most-liked post on Instagram was of Kylie Jenner's baby daughter, which has around 18 million likes. It's now been knocked off the top spot not by a stunning sunset or even a cute cat, but by an egg.
Social Media

Invite your friends — Facebook Events can now be shared to Stories

Facebook is testing a way to make plans with friends to attend an event -- through Stories. By sharing an event in Facebook Stories, users can message other friends interested in the event to make plans to attend together.
Social Media

A quick swipe will soon let you keep bingeing YouTube on mobile devices

The YouTube mobile app has a new, faster way to browse: Swiping. Once the update rolls out, users can swipe to go to the next (or previous) video in the recommended list, even while viewing in full screen.
Photography

Starting your very own vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability. When it comes to putting your life on YouTube, here are the best cameras for the job.
Social Media

Twitter extends its new timeline feature to Android users

Twitter users with an Android device can now quickly switch between an algorithm-generated timeline and one that shows the most recent tweets first. The new feature landed for iPhone users last month.
Social Media

YouTube to crack down on dangerous stunts like the ‘Bird Box’ challenge

YouTube already bans content showing dangerous activities, but new rules published by the site go into greater detail regarding potentially harmful challenges and pranks, including certain blindfold- or laundry detergent-based stunts.
Social Media

Nearly 75 percent of U.S. users don’t realize Facebook tracks their interests

Did you know Facebook tracks your interests, including political and multicultural affiliations? According to a recent Pew study, 74 percent of adult users in the U.S. have no idea Facebook keeps a running list of your interests.
Mobile

It’s back! Here’s how to switch to Twitter’s reverse chronological feed

Twitter has finally brought back the reverse chronological feed, allowing you to see your feed based on the newest tweets, rather than using Twitter's algorithm that shows what it thinks you want to see. It's easy to switch.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.