Writecombination Social Media
by Andrew Knowles

A quick introduction to the refreshed Google+ 

In one day, I’ve taken delivery of both the new-look Facebook and the new Google+. At first glance, the latter seems to be a more significant overhaul, which is no surprise given the network’s relative youth.

Google+ has only been around for a couple of years. Time enough for the developers to take on board and apply lots of lessons. Change has been a regular feature, but this update is huge, at least in terms of how the network is presented.

One of my frustrations with Google+ was, when compared to Twitter or even Facebook, the poor presentation of posts from those in my Circles (that is, people I follow). At best, I could only see the last couple of updates.

Cleaner look and feel

The immediate impact of the new Google+ is that this problem has gone. I’m now faced with a screen that looks a little like a Pinterest board, displaying lots of recent posts. These are broken up into three columns, although some devices will show two.

If you prefer the older approach of a single column, you can switch back to it under More>Stream Layout. I know which style I prefer. The new design is intended to give users a common experience regardless of what device on which you are accessing Google+. (Apparently 190 million people are now active on Google+).

The options down the left-hand side are now hidden, unless you mouseover the Home button. A list of contacts can be displayed on the right-hand side, or hidden, by clicking on the Hangouts option. The menus all slide nicely, making it all easier on the eye.

Making it simpler to follow your interests

In a bid to organise posts to make them easier to find by subject, Google+ will attempt to automatically add hashtags to them. You can then dig deeper into your subject by clicking the hashtag and seeing related content. That’s the theory - it’ll be interesting to see how it works in practice.

Hangouts are a popular feature of Google+, offering a free video meeting facility that I intend to make much more use of now I’m on fibre broadband. The success of Hangouts means they are now a stand-alone app, downloadable to your phone or tablet.

If you post photos to Google+, they’re now easier to make brighter and sharper using Auto Enhance. Auto Highlight will help you find the best pictures from a set with duplicates and poor shots, while Auto Backup will do just that, with your permission.

If you haven’t got it yet, the new Google+ will arrive on your device in just a few days. It’s an upgrade for the better, although, like all change, it may take a little getting used to.

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