New Pan and Zoom feature for high-res photos

Google+ has long had an awesome photo feature, and it just got a bit better.  You can now pan and zoom small areas of high resolution photos on the desktop version of Google+. According to Google’s Dave Cohen:

Google+ is full of amazing photos, and today we’re introducing the ability to pan and zoom when viewing photos from your desktop. To give these features a try, simply open a large photo in the lightbox, then:

- use your mouse wheel to zoom in or out
– click and drag to pan right, left, up or down

Higher resolution photos will offer more to explore, so we’re excited to launch pan and zoom just weeks after launching full-size backups of your Android photos (http://goo.gl/KRpjE).

Photos are certainly a very important aspect of social media, and this is a great new feature from Google!

All about the new “communities” feature

Google+ recently launched their new Communities feature, and it’s gone over quite well.  Here’s a bit about how it works:

For more, check out this in-depth post on Green Mellen Media’s blog.

Have you formed a Google+ community yet?  How’s it going so far?

Google+ getting a major visual overhaul

Google is in the process of rolling out a major update to Google+ and it looks amazing!  Here’s a video to show you what they’re doing:

In particular, they’ll be showing photos and videos in a larger format, adding a “ribbon” down the sidebar and making major changes to the profile pages.  It looks pretty awesome.

What do you think of the new look?

Circle management tool improves

Google is rolling out some very nice (and long overdue) changes to your “Circles” page.  In particular, four things are new:

  • A new left-hand navigation system
  • Quick access to your email address book(s)
  • Circles that shrink in size on smaller screens
  • Lots of improvements to the “find people” tool

It looks to be a nice little update.  Many users (including myself) don’t have it yet, but it’s rolling out slowly.  Here are a few screenshots if you don’t have it yet:

More details can be found in this post from +Sean Purcell.

Shared posts now link back to the originals

This is a minor update, but it’s one that solves frustration for many users.  When you see a post that has been shared, the text now includes a link back to the original post, as seen here:

For those times when you stumble upon an old share, or even a recent share from a heavy poster, it’s now much easier to find your way back to the original.

Video status updates arrive on Google+

Similar to the popular feature on YouTube, you can now record video directly from a Google+ status update.  Here’s how it looks:

It’s a cool feature, but I’m not sure I’d ever use it .  Will you?

(via RWW)

Lady Gaga joins Google+

Probably influenced by the big changes Google has made to the search results in the past week, +Lady Gaga has joined Google+.  Whether you care for her music or not isn’t the main story here — simply the fact she joined is a good sign for the network.  I’m guessing she wasn’t a big fan of Britney Spears and Snoop Dogg showing up for “music” searches on Google.

As of now she only has about 14,000 followers, putting her well behind Britney and her 1.4 million.  Still, I expect she’ll gain ground quickly.

Now, when will we see Justin Bieber?

Hashtag Auto-complete in Google+

One of the cool things about Google+ is all of the little things they continue to add to the service.  Today is a great example of that, especially for those of you that like to use hashtags.

In short, you can start typing a hashtag (like #SOPA) and it’ll offer suggestions while you type.  It’s a small thing, but makes them much more useful.

Here’s a super short video showing it off:

For more, check out Chris Messina’s full post.

Google+ removing the “incoming” stream. Will you care?

Google has decided to phase out the “incoming” stream in Google+.  While some people are upset, I’d venture to say that 99% of users don’t care.

In the time since I joined Google+ six months ago, I’ve been followed by quite a few people.  While some of those are certainly great folks, there are also quite a few spammers in there.   That’s the beauty of Google+ — like Twitter, I simply choose not to follow them and I can move on with my life.  However, as a result, my “incoming” stream was pretty much useless.

Google’s official statement on it:

“We’ve also greatly improved our friend suggestion algorhithms. these changes all serve the same purpose that incoming originally did: connecting people. Based on your feedback and our user research, we learned that the “incoming” stream was a very confusing part of Google+. Not surprisingly, this feedback was reflected in very low usage of the “Incoming” stream compared to the rest of Google+, so we decided to remove it and simplify things.”

While I’m happy to see it go, it feels like there ought to be some way to still view that stream.  Perhaps future changes to the search feature will allow that.  In the meantime, the Google+ interface just got a little bit cleaner.

New quick link to send a private message on Google+

Kind of a nice little addition — a new link on user’s profiles to “send a message” directly to that user:

Clicking the link will create a new post, with that user as the only recipient.  Note that the ability to do this is not new — you’ve always been able to send a message to a single person.  However, this one-click interface for it will likely be helpful for new members.

Also note that private messages appear just like any other.  I usually put something like *Private Message* at the top when I send it, so that users will realize what it is.  Perhaps Google should add something to automatically show that if a message has been sent to just a single person.

In any case, nice little tweak Google!