Google announced dozens of changes and upgrades to Google+ , its social network, today.
Google+ , launched in 2011, is is a relative newcomer to the social media game. And Google has been known for launching things and then either not investing in them further or shutting them down.
Not so with Google+.
Google has shown remarkable commitment to improving Google+. And this latest Google+ upgrade is one more example. Here at Small Business Trends we are still investigating the changes. But at first blush they seem like positive improvements that small business owners will love — visually and functionally.
Here are some of the changes rolled out today:
- More “Pinteresty” look: Content updates now appear as boxes. If you share an image or video, they take up a lot of space in each box, making such visual content more prominent. See image above.
- Multi-column layout: Depending on the screen resolution and type of device you’re using, you may see a one column, two column or three column layout. It’s what is known as “responsive design ” and considered a best practice in our world of mobile and other sized devices.
- Left menu slides out, top navigation bar “sticks”: The menus and navigation are there for you as and when needed. They don’t disappear as you scroll down the page and they don’t take up precious screen space. The gigantic cover (header) images  that quite a few users do not care for, go up out of the way.
- Related hashtags: Related hashtags are a new feature that you can use to tag your content so that readers can find related topics. And here’s an interesting bit: Google will actually tag your content with hashtags for you. You can remove the Google-placed hashtags if you wish and just use your own.
- Hangouts get improvements: Google’s videoconferencing app, Google Hangouts, got substantial upgrades. Google launched a standalone version of Hangouts that works across Android, iOS and your computer. It makes hangouts more functional for making quick video calls. See the video below for more about these changes.
- Photos get more storage, smarter features: Google+ will “with your permission… automatically back up your mobile pics as you snap them.” Resized images get free unlimited storage. Google+ will help you highlight the best images, by de-emphasizing blurry images and duplicates. There’s also Auto enhance, which can “improve brightness, contrast, saturation, structure, noise, focus… and dozens of other factors automatically.”