One of the most popular Internet-based services is social media. It has drastically changed the way we communicate and interact with one another.
One of the bigger platforms, Google+, has been consistently playing catch-up with other more popular services. However, Google recently announced and rolled out an update to Google+ that should make it more appealing for many users. Here is an overview of the new Google+ features recently introduced:
A new layout
On the main (Home) screen you will notice that posts have been changed to individual cards, similar to the Google Now cards, and are arranged in either one, two or three columns. These posts now take up more space horizontally, which makes it easier to view more content at once. The menu bar that took up the left-hand side of the previous layout has been moved and is now collapsible. If you hover over Home on the upper-left of the screen the menu will pop out from the left-side. Circles and related feeds have also been added at the top of the window and clicking on a related circle name will bring up content only from your friends in that circle. Adding new posts has also been turned into a card layout found at the top-left of the content stream. The different options -- Text, Photos, Link, Video and Hangout -- are now big buttons that you can push to create a related post.
Possibly the most intriguing new feature introduced is an update to the existing Hangouts. The numerous Google chat functions have been merged into a single chat and video messaging app available for Google+, iPhone, iPad, Android, Gmail and Chrome. This means you can host group chats for up to 10 par
ticipants which users can access through various systems. What this means for businesses is that you now have an easier way to communicate across multiple systems without having to worry about compatibility.
Better pictures and albums
A key component of any social media platform is visual content. Google has introduced some interesting photo-based features that could help make your content more attractive. One feature is Auto Enhance, which will touch-up photos by looking at factors such as blur, contrast and saturation. From what we have seen, the touch-ups are effective in making your pictures look better.
There is also a new feature called Auto Awesome, which looks at the types of photos you upload and can do various impressive things. For example, if you upload a series of similar pictures, say a sequence of images taken one after the other in a short amount of time, Auto Awesome will create an animated GIF which you can share on your wall.
This function can also create panorama or HDR images. Auto Highlight is another recently introduced feature which uses an algorithm to analyze pictures and skip over duplicate, blurry or underexposed pictures while uploading them, supposedly leaving you with only the best pictures.
The hashtag (#) has become popular on many social media platforms and is an easy way to find similar content. Google+ has improved the hashtag system and will now automatically add relevant tags to your posts. You will see these as small blue tabs on the right of the card, and hovering over these will show the relevant hashtag. If you click on it, the card will flip over and show you other posts that have the same tag. This could be a great way to find similar content and could help bring more exposure to your profile.
The new Google+ layout is a big change compared to previous versions and could prove to be useful for your company's profile and online presence.
David Spire, president and CEO of United Systems, holds multiple professional certifications, including Microsoft's Small Business Specialist. David can be reached at 941.721.6423 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.