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(Pocket-lint) - Google is holding a live event in San Francisco right now, and it's introducing 18 new features for Google+.

Before announcing the changes, Vic Gundotra, senior vice-president at Google, confirmed that Google+ users upload 1.5 billion photos each week. There's also been a 20x increase in the number of videos uploaded. Speaking of users, Google said there are more than 300 million active users on Google+ right now.

Hangout app, Hangout Broadcast experience and Hangout video calls

Starting today, the Hangout app has a Place button that'll retrieve your location. The app also now supports GIFs. The most requested new feature is integrated SMS - so you can have one place to manage all your communication (from SMS to chat and video).

As for the Broadcast experience, Google+ is giving users the ability to plan a Hangout with a dedicated landing page, promotion tools and management options (like adding and removing participants).

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Also, as of today, HD will be available for all video calls. The magic in Google's Auto-Awesome feature is now in the Hangout video experience, too. This will do things like boost light, enable black and white, turn on the blur or focus effect feature, etc. 


Google reiterated that it uploads images at full resolution on Google+. On iOS devices, those images will soon be backed up and synced to the cloud. In the next version of Google+ for iOS, full-size backups and background sync will be on, regardless of whether the Google+ app is open.

The company also discussed Highlights, an algorithm that picks out the best pictures from hundreds. First introduced at Google I/O, Google said it has now improved the feature by hiding pictures that are blurry, boosting pictures with landmarks, etc. 

As for wanting to find that one image, Google said it's made progress. It first demonstrated the ability to search for terms in untagged photos in Google+ at Google I/O, but now the feature - called Computer Vision - has 1,000 more words that it recognises (such as bridesmaids, waterfall, dog and more). 

Google also updated editing tools in its auto-enhance feature of Google+, Snapseed app and Nik photography suite. Google said it automatically enhances photos - subtly, but now the auto-enhance feature in Google+ has a low and high setting on an album-to-album basis.

Moving on to Snapseed, a Google-acquired photography app for iOS and Android, Google has given it a new filter called HDR Efex Pro. It doesn't create HDR effects by tone-mapping pixel brightness. It instead looks at pixel contrast, and it allows users to control how much HDR they'd like to apply. Google said this type of HDR feature is new to all mobile devices.

On the high-end of photo-editing, Google has the Nik collection, and it has a new feature called Analog Efex Pro. To render an old-time look, all users have to do is make use of Analog Efex Pro. It sports new looks and effects for making digital images appear more analog-like.

Starting today as well, Google+ has more Auto-Awesome features.

One is called Auto-Motion, which compiles a series of photos to make an animated GIF. This only works if Google+ recognises movement. It even has ghosting capability for a series of action shots that might not be ideal for GIFing. This is called Auto-Action, and makes it look like the person is moving in one frame. The second feature is Auto-Erase, which will allow you to erase people or places entirely in photos.


Google also looked at videos when it decided to dream up new features for Google+. The social network can now analyse videos and automatically make them better with stabilisation, editing, slicing, adding them together and combining them in appropriate order, applying the perfect music and photos, syncing music to scene cuts, etc.

The ability to auto-edit videos is called Auto-Awesome Movies. It's literally the power of Google applied to videos, as Google+ will do all of the stuff mentioned above to your videos automatically. It will send you a quick notification when done. Voila! Edited movies is a breeze.

Also, if you wanted new styles added to the video, you could simply swipe your finger across it to apply effects like Punk. There's even a pencil button in the corner that will bring up a Timeline mode, allowing you to get rid of Google's auto-edits, change duration, or do whatever else you'd like. It's filled with controls for video editing. 

Watch the Live Stream

Want to see Google introduce all of these new features? Check out the stream below. The actions starts around 12:40. 

Writing by Elyse Betters. Originally published on 29 October 2013.