Google+ Photos: Auto Awesome, Auto Enhance, and other photo features explored

It seems Google is continually introducing some new photo effect for photos uploaded to Google+. Google+ just introduced a Valentine's Day Auto Awesome effect, for instance, which applies animated floating hearts to all newly uploaded photos of two people kissing.

With such nifty features quietly debuting all the time, Pocket-lint thought it would be a good idea to explore everything you need to know about Auto Awesome, Auto Enhance, and other photo features buried within Google's social network. 

What is Auto Awesome on Google+?

Auto Awesome is an automatic enhancement that Google applies to photos manually uploaded to Google+ or captured with an Android/iPhone and backed up via the Google+ app.

There are several types of Auto Awesome effects, including ones that optimise or create animations. All of them happen on Google's back-end, so you don't need to apply them yourself (unless you're using the Movie feature - but more on that later).

What are some Auto Awesome effects?

Google+ offers seven standard Auto Awesome effects: Eraser, Action, Pano, HDR, Motion, Smile and Mix. A description for each effect is available on Google's Auto Awesome photos & movies page.

Beyond the standard effects, Google+ also offers season or holiday-inspired effects available for only a limited time. The social network introduced an Auto Awesome enhancement in December, for instance, which applied animated snow and lights to all winter-related photos.

READ: Google+ can now make your holiday photos twinkle and snow

Where do I find my Auto Awesome photos?

To access all of your Auto Awesome photos within the Google+ app, tap the Menu icon, then select Photos, and choose Auto Awesome. Google will display Auto Awesome-enhanced photos with the Auto Awesome icon visible in the upper-right corner (this occurs whether you are viewing the photo on a mobile device or computer).

How do I turn off Auto Awesome?

If Auto Awesome doesn't interest you, you can disable it under the Camera and Photos section of your Settings menu within the Google+ app. Switch the toggle for "Auto Awesome" to the off position.

You can do the same thing on Google+'s website. Place your cursor in the top-left corner for the Google+ main menu. Click Settings, and then uncheck the box next to "Create awesome new photos and videos for you". Auto Awesome is on by default.

What is an Auto Awesome movie?

You can create Auto Awesome movies using the Google Photos app for Android. Choose the photos and videos you wish to make into an Auto Awesome movie, and Google does the rest. You can see a trailer for the Auto Awesome movie feature below.

This feature combines photos and videos into a short film, capturing your entire experience, such as going to a concert with friends, and it is the only Auto Awesome feature that has to be activated manually. You can only change the theme, style, background music and order of scenes.

Auto Awesome movies are limited to devices running Android 4.3 and up, including: the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7 (2013), Nexus 10, HTC One, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Moto X, and Moto G.

What is Auto Enhance on Google+?

Similar to Auto Awesome, Auto Enhance is an automatic enhancement that Google applies to photos manually uploaded to Google+ or captured with an Android/iPhone and backed up via the Google+ app.

Auto Enhance tries to improve brightness, contrast, saturation, structure, noise, focus and other aspects in mediocre photos. And all of this happens on Google's back-end, so you won't need to apply anything.

Where do I find my Auto Enhance photos?

To see if a photo on your Google+ profile has been enhanced with Auto Enhance, click any photo to open it in full screen. Once you've done that, place your cursor over the photo. Photos that have been enhanced will say "enhanced" in the corner.

How do I adjust Auto Enhance?

Google+'s website lets you adjust or remove Auto Enhance for both photos and albums.

To adjust the level of enhancement in a photo, place your cursor over the "enhanced" tag. You will then have the option to select normal, high, customise or off. Choosing off will remove Auto Enhance.

To adjust the level of enhancement for a photo album, go to Google+'s main menu, then find the  and click the drop-down arrow to the right of the album title. You will then have the option to apply a normal or high level of Auto Enhance. You can also select off to remove Auto Enhance.

How do I turn off Auto Enhance?

If Auto Enhance doesn't interest you, you can disable it under the Camera and Photos section of your Settings menu within the Google+ app. You'll want to switch the toggle for "Auto Enhance" to the off position.

You can do the same thing on Google+'s website. Place your cursor in the top-left corner for the Google+ main menu. Click Settings, and then uncheck the box next to "Automatically enhance new photos". Auto Enhance is on by default.

How do I manually edit photos on Google+?

Apart from all the automatic effects and enhancements applied to your photos, Google+ also lets you edit photos the old-fashioned way. You just need to install the Chrome browser on your desktop first.

Lightbox view

Once you've downloaded Chrome, you can start editing in Lightbox view. Simply click any photo uploaded to your Google+ account to view it in full screen (or, as Google called it, "lightbox view"). Then use the icons at the top of the photo to rotate, zoom in, crop or delete.

Photo editor

While in the Lightbox view, you can click Edit to access more Photo editor features. Google+ offers four basic adjustments and six creative adjustments. Basic adjustments include tune image, selective adjust, details and crop and rotate. Creative adjustments include black and white, center focus, drama, frames, tilt-shift, vintage films and retrolux.

A description for each adjustment is available on Google's Edit Photos page.

Editing on mobile

When uploading a photo using the Google+ app, you will see icons at the bottom of the photo for rotate, crop and filters. Filters include warm, cool, drama and many more. Once you've applied all the desired edits, you can finish uploading the edited photo to your Google+ profile.

If you want to edit a photo already uploaded, tap on the photo to view it in full screen. Then select the Settings icon in the top-right corner. Options will appear for enabling Auto Enhance or editing. If you tap edit, you will see icons for enhance, rotate, crop, and filters.

Pan and zoom

Google+'s website also give you the ability to pan and zoom when in Lightbox view. This is especially useful for panoramic images. Just use your mouse wheel to zoom in or out. You can also click and drag to pan right, left, up or down.

Want to know more about Google+ photo features?

Pocket-lint looked at all of Google+ photo features immediately after Google introduced Auto Awesome and Auto Enhance, and we even compared them to Facebook's photos features. Check out our article to learn more about what Google+ offers.