We could all use more time for ourselves, and less time figuring out technology. So today's improvements to Google+ Hangouts and Photos aim to take a lot of the work out of messaging, video calling and photo editing.

Hangouts

Hangouts enable conversations among close friends, as well as broadcasts with the entire world. Today we're improving both:
  • Hangouts for Android now supports location sharing and SMS. This way you can send a map of your current location (vs. finding and typing an address), and you can send and receive SMS (vs. switching between apps). Animated GIFs also play inline.
  • Broadcasters can now schedule Hangouts On Air, then promote them with a dedicated watch page. Once you're live, Control Room lets you moderate the conversation with eject and remote mute.
  • In both cases, the video calling experience is significantly improved. It's now full screen across mobile and desktop, and it fixes and enhances webcam lighting automatically.

From left to right: location sharing; SMS support; and animated GIFs

From left to right: schedule your Hangout On Air; promote it with a dedicated watch page; and moderate the conversation with Control Room

From left to right: video call before lighting fixes; video call after lighting fixes

The Android app and video calling features will be available in a few days, while the On Air improvements will roll out over the next few weeks.

Photos and videos

Photos and videos capture life's most precious moments, but it’s way too hard to save, organize, edit and share your stuff. Google+ can make things easier, automatically.
  • For starters, full size backups and background sync are coming soon to Google+ for iOS. This way you can backup your photos as you take them.
  • In addition, finding your photos is actually fun. We now recognize over a thousand different objects—from sunsets to snowmen—so you can just type what you’re looking for, and find matching items in your library.
  • Auto Enhance improves each photo you add to Google+, and now you can now dial the enhancements up or down. If you’re already processing your images elsewhere, you can choose to exempt an album entirely.
  • If you like to edit on the go, then you’ll enjoy Snapseed and its new HDR Scape filter. While high dynamic range (HDR) imaging requires multiple photos to create its effect, HDR Scape can deliver similar results with a single tap.
  • We’re also adding Analog Efex Pro to the Nik Collection (still just $149). With it you can reimagine your images using classic cameras and processing methods—from toy and medium format to wet plate and vintage.

From left to right: photo searches for "beach", "sunset" and "snow"

From left to right: original image; Auto Enhance at "normal"; Auto Enhance at "high"

From left to right: original image; image enhanced with Snapseed HDR Scape

Auto Awesome can help bring your story to life in creative ways. Today we’re adding three new techniques:
  • Action. Maybe it’s your child’s first gymnastic meet, or you’re skateboarding with a friend. Action can take their tumble or half pipe trick, and create a strobe-effect photograph.
  • Eraser. When you’re taking pictures of landmarks, people and cars often get in the way. Eraser can take a sequence of these photos, and erase whatever’s moving to give you a “cleaner” image.
  • Movie. Movie produces highlight reels from your photos and videos—complete with effects, transitions and a soundtrack—automatically. You can share the movie as is, or dive into the editing process to customize even further.
From left to right: sequence of action shots; Auto Awesome Action

From left to right: sequence of images with people in the way; Auto Awesome Eraser



All of today’s photo and video improvements will be available this week. Auto Awesome Movie works on certain devices with Android 4.3+, but all the other app features are widely supported.

With 540 million people active across Google each month, 300 million people active in just the stream and more than 1.5 billion photos uploaded every week, the Google+ community is growing faster than we ever could have imagined. Today’s updates are our way of saying “thank you”—we hope they save you time, and help you share your story.