Top 5 New Features of Google Plus

San Francisco, CA - Google announced 41 new features for Google+ at Google I/O 2013. Those improvements include a redesigned Stream for updates and a revamped Hangouts feature, among many other things. Literally, every aspect of Google's social network now sports new features and additions for all sorts of things, from the way your Stream looks to automatic hashtags or how users discover new content. Here are five worthwhile features of Google Plus that will be rolling out today. 

1. Redesigned Stream

The new Stream employs an attractive multi-column design, which allows users to scan more posts at once. Photos and videos can still span multiple columns, and new animations include a nifty pop-out box when you want to share. 

"It's not about design, it's about depth," Google's Vic Gundotra said on stage at Google I/O 2013. This news comes at the same time that Facebook has shifted its Timeline design to a single column.

2. Related Hashtags

Hashtags aren't just for Twitter anymore. The new related hashtags feature lets Google+ analyze your posts and recommend hashtags, such as  #SFGiants.  A small menu in the corner of each card displays these hashtags, and clicking on them will reveal related items based on Google's search and social sources. Trending topics will be displayed in the right hand corner of the Stream.

This is an optional feature that will roll out to Google+ this afternoon, along with many of the other announcements Google has made today.

3. Hangouts App

Google also unveiled a new standalone messaging app for iOS, Android and Google Chrome known as Hangouts. This app will encompass Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, and the original Google+ Hangout video chatting service.

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Rather than presenting a list of contacts, Hangouts displays a list of conversations by default. Conversation threads can last as long as several months or a year, and users will be able to delete their history as they please. Icons on the bottom of the screen indicate when friends are typing and how long they've been in the conversation. The unveiling of Hangouts confirms Google's long-rumored unified messenger service, which was initially believed to be called Babel. 

4. Cloud Integration 

Google unveiled some photo improvements that will be implemented into Google + as well, including auto enhancement and cloud integration. With full-sized photos, you'll get 15GB of cloud storage space and an unlimited space at standard size. 

5. Photo Editing Tools

With the Highlight feature, Google can automatically choose your best photos by pinpointing images that are blurry or have bad exposure. It also analyzes which images would be most important to you based on the people in the photo. New editing and customization features also include skin softening, noise reduction and auto enhance among others. HDR Smile will select images in which the subjects are smiling, and Motion Pano stitches multiple images together for you.

Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.