updated 02:30 pm EDT, Wed May 15, 2013
Hangouts conversations to carry between iOS, Android, Web
Google has shown a significant number of changes to Google+ at its Google I/O developer event, as part of its attempts to attract users. The redesign of the social network is accompanied by the rumored unified messaging system, branded Hangouts, and the automatic enhancement, editing and highlighting of photographs uploaded onto its service.
The new Google+, rolling out later today, will show multiple columns with Google Now-style cards. Cards are made up of individual images or posts, automatically applying related hashtags to posts for the user. Cards can be flipped to show editing options and comments, with the number of card columns automatically adjusting to the width of the browser window.
Hangouts, nicknamed Babel, replaces Google Talk, Messenger, and Hangouts themselves, and will replace other messaging systems across Google properties over time. The messaging app, for use on iOS (App Store) as well as on Android and through a browser, will provide lists of conversations, with the most recent taking the top billing. Conversations can be individually labeled, and will be stored on Google's servers, allowing conversations to cross between platforms and devices. Conversations can be turned into video calls, with up to ten people able to take part at the same time.
Images uploaded to Google+ will automatically receive an editing treatment from Google before being viewed. Auto Enhance will change the exposure, soften skin, lower noise, adjust tones, and add a vignette, with Google also able to pick the best pictures to display from an uploaded batch based on a number of factors, including affinity to people within the images, duplicates, blurs, and landmarks. Users will be able to turn off enhancements globally or for individual images, while an Auto Awesome mode will apply one of five effects to groups of images, such as motion blur, HDR, or creating a panorama.