Yes 41 feature updates - here's our top 5 from the Google I/O announcements
Modern marketers have always had to take Google+ seriously, because of Google's dominance in Search. Yet, there are other reasons too... with the proliferation of Android users on mobile (now 900 million Android activations, up on the 400 million last year); Chrome with its 750 million browser users and now the reported growth of Google+ to 343 million users - there are more and more reasons to keep a very close eye on what Google are doing. Not to mention Google Glass.
It's always been tempting to just focus on Facebook and to a lesser extent Twitter for B2C social media marketing and advertising, and given that Facebook shrugged off rumours of Facebook fatigue with large user increases in 2012 (now over 640m users) it's still tempting to do so. Google+ is the second largest social network and ahead of Twitter for a year now in terms of active users and they are not letting up on developing their platform. A cursory glance at 5 key features launched this week at Google's I/O 2013 will reveal why.
Remember that new features inspire more usage and more consumers, so brands and their marketing teams naturally follow suit…
- 1. Related hashtags - this is likely the most important for content marketers. Hashtags are no longer just for Instagram and Twitter. The new, and optional, related hashtags feature lets Google+ analyse posts and in turn recommend hashtags.
A menu in the corner of each post display hashtags, clicking on them will reveal related items based on Google’s search and social sources. Similarly, trending hashtags will be displayed in the right hand corner of the newly updated Google+ Stream. Already a huge opportunity for brands?
- 2. Updated news stream - it'd be more accurate to say re-built, as this is a whole new experience. A new multi-column design allows users to scan multiple posts at once. Photos and videos can still span multiple columns, and new animations include a pop-out box when you want to share. You'd expect this feature to drive more scanning, more content consumption and more lightweight interactions such as sharing. That said, this news comes at the same time that Facebook has shifted its Timeline design to a single column!
“It’s not about design, it’s about depth,” Vic Gundotra - Google I/O 2013.
- 3. Hangouts App - a new standalone messaging app for iOS, Android and Google Chrome will encompass Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, and the original Google+ Hangout video chatting service. Designed to take on Apple's FaceTime, maybe? The unveiling of Hangouts as a unified messenger service has been expected.
Hangouts displays a list of conversations not contacts with those threads lasting as long as several months or a year, users will be able to delete their history as they please. Icons on the bottom of the screen indicate when friends are typing and how long they’ve been in the conversation.
- 4. Advanced photo editing - Google's alert to how much we love creating and sharing imagery, naturally. Google can automatically choose your best photo, silo-ing images that are blurry or badly exposed. It also figures out which images would be most important to you based on the people in the photo. New editing features include skin softening, noise reduction and auto enhance. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The key point is that Google wants to draw users in with useful features.
- 5. Free cloud storage - just as Google did with Gmail, the new features come with 15Gb of free cloud storage as standard. Another key feature attractive to the public - and no doubt of significant use to Android users generating imagery on the smartphones.