Google+ completely redesigned, now automatically enhances photos and highlights your best shots

Just over a year since the last major redesign to Google+,Senior Vice President Vic Gundotra has revealed at I/O 2013 that the search company is completely reworking the layout of its social network.It will be available later today. The new design bears resemblance to the rather attractive layout Google+ adopted for its iPad and Android tablet apps last June: a three column-wide grid of cards replaces the long list of posts,photos, and comments that currently makes up the Google+ Stream, and high-resolution photos and videos take up the full screen width. There will also be an option to switch to a one-column view. By exposing visitors to more visual content at once, Google is likely hoping that users will find something that intrigues them quicker.

The redesign doesn’t just feature a new layout for your Google+ stream  the company has also worked to turn the website into more of a proper app instead of a website. The redesign includes some very nifty animations that should serve to make using the social network a bit more fun. For example, clicking on a card flips it over to reveal comments. When you want to write a new post, clicking a button on the top right flies a window onto your screen to let you compose.

Part of the spruced-up Google+ is focused on hashtags. Hashtags have been expanded, and the social network will automatically scan your updates to add relevant links (you can disable the feature if you’d like). Google is also able to scan
photos you upload, like one of the Eiffel Tower, and tag it appropriately.

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What’s more important than a new coat of paint (even if it is nice paint) for Google+ is the suite of photo features the company has announced today for its social network.

“Auto Awesome creates a new image from something that didn’t exist.”

First, Google plans to automatically make your pictures better. A feature called Auto Enhance will analyze and apply tweaks to your uploaded photos. From what we’ve heard on stage, this will include simple adjustments like brightness,contrast, color correction, noise reduction, tonal distribution, and saturation, but it will also make some more intensive changes. One demonstration showed how Google detects faces and will automatically blur out skin there to hide zits, for instance. Going off of the few examples we’ve seen, the feature looks quite effective, but it might be overzealous. All of the adjustments are non-destructive and you can disable Auto Enhance if you like. If you are looking at a photo that you upload you can look at before and after shots to decide if you want to use the feature.

There’s also something called “Auto Awesome.” By detecting the kinds of photos you take, Google is going to try to make other improvements. For example, if you upload a series of similar photos taken in a short period of time Google will automatically make an animated GIF out of it. If you upload a set of group photos it will stitch together one picture so that everyone is smiling. It will also make auto panoramas and HDR photos if you upload the right kinds of pictures.