Rolled up within a slew of updates released today for Google+, the photos section got a complete overhaul. Your photos are now editable, sortable and more social. It might even be the reason to jump from Facebook to Google+ for good. That's why we went in to find out how all these features work.
Within the photo section of our Google + profile, our images from Instant Upload were already re-arranged by date (latest to oldest). As we started perusing the redesign, we couldn't shake the feeling of Facebook deja vu. As we began tagging people in photo albums and viewing photos people had tagged us in, we felt like we had stumbled into an alternate dimension of Facebook. However Google+ separates photos under Highlights, Photos, Albums and More.
One feature, Highlight, displays some of the best photos taken during a three month time period. The search giant uses an algorithm to determine which are the best photos by taking into account pictures in focus, people smiling, shots near well-known landmarks, etc. We preferred the collage motif of Google+ photo layout compared to Facebook's uniform presentation. Photos showed us all our pictures, while albums displayed all our collections of pics. The More header categorized photos that were featured in G+posts, images in Auto Backup and photos of us. Highlights was our favorite layout as the discordant sizes made the presentation more visually appealing.
Clicking on one of our photos, cued up a slideshow similar to Facebook. Images were larger on Google+ and listed a slew of information including the date the photo was taken, image dimensions, the type of device that snapped the photo, focal length, exposure and ISO. A Share button is located on top of the photo with buttons for Edit, Tag People, Slideshow, Rotate and Delete. There's also a More button that displays options to Download, Auto Enhance or add the image to an album when pressed.
The new picture editing features were impressive, and imagine they might give Adobe a run for its money. Certainly Facebook can't compete in this area. Auto Enhance is one of the biggest additions. With a simple press of a button, Auto Enhance brightens up the color, sharpens details and softens the skin, smoothing out wrinkles. But you can do all of these things manually, if you so choose. For instance, after Auto Enhancing an image of fellow staffer Dan Howley, we proceeded to use the tools to spray paint him green. Once the paint job was complete, we added a quote from one of our favorite Marvel Comic heroes and clicked Save.
Unfortunately, after all our hard work, Google+ was unable to save our photo. Hopefully as Google continues to roll out features, this feature will be ironed out. If the photo had saved, we could have tagged Dan, saved it to an album or shared it with our Google+ circles.
Google+ Photos also offers a little something “Awesome”, which Facebook doesn't have. The Awesome feature requires that you have taken shots using a camera's burst mode. Google then takes these pictures that have been taken in a row, or around the same time, and makes animated images, collages, panoramas and more. If you have such shots in your Google+ profile, they have already been Awesomed by the search giant.
Overall, photos on Google+ are visually appealing. The social network now offers a lot of useful information and features that have the potential to become a productivity killer, if not a Facebook destroyer as well.