Google+ has rolled out new features for its profile and pages, including a "Local" reviews tab and larger cover photos, one day ahead of Facebook's big News Feed announcement.
WHAT'S NEW - Bigger profile page cover photos
WHAT'S NEW - Bigger, brighter and higher aspect photos and videos
The company announced in a Google+ post on Wednesday that users will gradually start to see some new features added throughout the social network. Among the changes is a new tab for local reviews — a move in line with Google's efforts to expand local search across its platforms.
WHAT'S NEW - Two home page layout options
WHAT'S NEW - Hidden menu bars
Menu's are hidden (above)
Similar to photos and +1 buttons, users will be able to highlight reviews and favorite restaurants (This option can also be hidden via the settings button).
Members will also start to see larger cover photos with a better aspect ratio. Now, cover photos display 2120 pixels by 1192 pixels at a 16:9 ratio when fully expanded. Google said.
"This way more images can be used as cover photos, and there’s more room for your selection to shine."
WHAT'S NEW - Hangouts enhancements
WHAT'S NEW - #HASHTAGS have been added to user updates
The company is also making it easier for users to edit information via the About tab, which now includes options to edit Education, Work, Links and Places. You can still share specific fields with certain circles or keep them private.
To see if your page has gotten the updates, click here.
What do you think of the updates? Let us know in the comments.
COMMENTS: On Thursday, I was very busy working on a project, and did not have time to access Google+ until very late in the evening. When I saw the new Google+ look, it just blew me away. It's beautiful, simpler, slicker and more intuitive than the previous look. Google+'s new design offers bigger, brighter and higher aspect ratios for images and videos, hidden menu bars, and the addition of #hashtags. Love the addition of #hashtags to updates. This will greatly improve Google searches. In my opinion Google+ makes Facebook look really, really boring.
If you missed it, or are not a Google+ user yet, here are some of the changes rolled out on Thursday:
- More “Pinteresty” look: Content updates now appear as boxes. If you share an image or video, they take up a lot of space in each box, making such visual content more prominent. See image above.
- Multi-column layout: Depending on the screen resolution and type of device you’re using, you may see a one column, two column or three column layout. It’s what is known as “responsive design” and considered a best practice in our world of mobile and other sized devices.
- Left menu slides out, top navigation bar “sticks”: The menus and navigation are there for you as and when needed. They don’t disappear as you scroll down the page and they don’t take up precious screen space. The gigantic cover (header) images that quite a few users do not care for, go up out of the way.
- Related hashtags: Related hashtags are a new feature that you can use to tag your content so that readers can find related topics. And here’s an interesting bit: Google will actually tag your content with hashtags for you. You can remove the Google-placed hashtags if you wish and just use your own.
- Hangouts get improvements: Google’s videoconferencing app, Google Hangouts, got substantial upgrades. Google launched a standalone version of Hangouts that works across Android, iOS and your computer. It makes hangouts more functional for making quick video calls. See the video below for more about these changes.
- Photos get more storage, smarter features: Google+ will “with your permission… automatically back up your mobile pics as you snap them.” Resized images get free unlimited storage. Google+ will help you highlight the best images, by de-emphasizing blurry images and duplicates. There’s also Auto enhance, which can “improve brightness, contrast, saturation, structure, noise, focus… and dozens of other factors automatically.”