Google Unveils New Music Streaming, Hangout App, Photo Features

PHOTO: Chris Yerga, engineering director for Android at Google Inc., speaks during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, May 15, 2013.
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Google today announced several new software features at its Google I/O conference in San Francisco that spanned from a brand new music streaming service to new ways to "explore" on its popular Google Maps app.

With a heavy emphasis on innovation through its Android operating system and Chrome, Google's web browser, the theme of the tech giant's sixth annual conference for software developers was providing new features to "make people's lives better," said Google CEO Larry Page.

"Technology should do the hard work so people can get on with doing the things that make them happiest in life," Page said.

Let's break down the major highlights Google unveiled, many of which are available today:

Google All Access Music: 'Radio Without Rules'
Google announced today it jumped on the online music streaming bandwagon with a new service through its Google Play -- its Android store for apps, music, movies and other multimedia.

Previously, users could only stream music they purchased from Google Play. Now, as with other Internet radio providers, the All Access service lets users stream music they haven't purchased, pick different genres.

SLIDESHOW: Photos from the Google I/O conference

"We set out to build a music service that didn't just give us access to great music but to help guide you to it," said Google engineering director Chris Yerga.

The All Access service costs $9.99 per month and users get a 30-day free trial. Available today, users who sign up by June 30 will get the service at a discount for $7.99.

This move into the rapidly expanding music sharing industry makes Google competitive with other Internet radio streaming companies, including Pandora and Spotify. It also potentially beat Apple, who has been rumored to be building their music streaming repotoire, to the punch.

Google+ Redesign: New Interface, 'Auto Awesome' Photo Feature
Google announced 41 new features on Google+, the tech giant's 2-year-old social network, over three key areas: Stream, Hangouts and Photos.

Even with 190 million active users, Google+ is still not as widely used as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, but these newly unveiled software updates will make it more competitive.

First, the user interface change, which rolls out today. Instead of a singular content stream, which was similar to the old Facebook news feed, Google+ will now feature up to three columns of updates from you and your friends on Google+ and have photo tagging.

Second, Google revealed new photo editing features, which will be available today to all photo albums uploaded to Google+, which will please photographers, both amateur and professional.

The "Auto Awesome" feature "creates a new image from one that did not exist," he said. Its features include motion, which makes a motion photo of different photos from the same scene -- a .gif, essentially. "Pano" will stitch together photos into a panoramic automatically. "Smile" will find the photo in which you were smiling and then combine that with another photo when you might not have been smiling.

"Auto Highlight" shifts through hundreds of photos, say from a recent vacation, and pulls together the photos the program thinks are the most beautiful and most important automatically, disregarding blurry images and duplicates.

And what good is uploading all these photos if you can't do it for free? Google boosted its free cloud storage space for users from 5BG to 15GB, which allows users to keep the real resolution of your photos stored, unlike Facebook or Instagram, which shrinks the resolution.

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