Google+ Gets End Of Year Update: Low-Bandwidth Hangouts, Full-Size Mobile Photo Backups, Better Event Planning & More

Google is giving its social network a “big” end-of-year update, with 18 new features parcelled up and doled out — many of them coming in a new version (v3.3) of the Google+ app, which Google says will land on the Play Store today. The rest of the updates will apparently hit Google+ “in the next day or so.”

Google announced the update on its Google+ blog, with Mountain View saying it’s aiming to make sharing and communicating via Google+ easier and more fun. The updates cover several areas, including photos, mobile, Hangouts and Events.

Changes for Google+ Android app users include: on-the-go profile editing and an “easier way” to author content; plus a “subtle notice” when there’s something new to read. Android G+ users will also be able to subscribe to mobile notifications from Circles, and interact with Google+ Communities on their phone/tablet.

App users will also be able to get full-size photo backups via the Instant Upload feature, and view and create 360-degree panorama Photo Spheres (although to create these they’ll need Android 4.2, but viewing just needs Froyo or above). App users also get animated GIFs, birthday reminders in Google Now, and a lock screen widget.

Another area Google has focused on is Events, with updates aimed at making event planning easier. G+ users can now send messages through Events to specific guests and see who’s opened their invites. Guests can be invited through Google+ or by copying the URL of the event into an email or IM, plus guests can RSVP with the number of people they’re bringing. Events can also be duplicated to make it easier to create future Events.

Google+’s Hangouts feature, which allows groups of people to video chat together, is also getting an update. From today, Google says it’s lowered the bandwidth requirement for Hanging Out to around 150KB, noting “we’re making it possible to connect with friends even in parts of the world with extremely low bandwidth.”

Google has also updated its Hangouts On Air feature to improve the broadcast experience when only one person is participating by removing the thumbnail space to allow the broadcast area to fill the screen — as seen here

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