New Photo and Chat Toys in Google+ Upgrade
PHOTO: Google+s new features include more camera options and effects, as well as an improved chat app.

Google's Senior Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundotra revealed today that Google+ is far from calling it quits.

"In the last four months, we pushed out 20 updates to Google+," he said at a press event. "But we're proud to announce that today, we're going to be introducing 18 more features."

Many of those updates improve Hangouts, Google+'s chat app that connects its users to one another. Users can now immediately share their location, thanks to Google Maps. Rather than hunt around for an address or copy and paste a long Google Maps URL, Hangouts lets users click on a button and upload their device's location information straight into the chat app. Hangouts also supports SMS messaging, so anyone without a smartphone can still chat with a Google+ user through text messages.

In addition to chatting through text, Google+ improved how users can chat with each other over Hangouts' video calls. When a user sets up a video chat, Google+ will automatically compensate for bad lighting, making sure that everyone is clear and visible in the chatroom. Furthermore, Google+ also included several filters for video chatters to play with.

For people who use their phones less for chatting and more for snapping and sharing photos, Google+ has a few tricks up its sleeve. Google+ will apply several touches automatically, like adjusting the lighting or enhancing a blurry spot. In addition, Gundotra announced that iOS users would also be able to automatically sync their photos to Google+ at their native resolution, a feature that was previously limited to Android users.

Gundotra alluded to improving Google+'s photo sharing service Google I/O conference this past May. In a not-so-subtle jab to Google+'s competitors, the presentation included a slide that compared the photo sizes of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+, with the Google+ entry dwarfing all the others. "We are not building a service for lightweight sharing where your image is degraded," he said.

The Hangouts app has more in common with iMessage, the iPhone's chat app, than it does with Facebook's chat system. The photo apps aren't looking for new ways to share photos, but new ways to make shared photos better quality. It seems that Google+ has changed its mission as a social network. It's no longer about sharing news and updates, but about taking many different apps and uniting them into a cohesive experience.

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