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The 4 best things about the Google+ redesign

Kristin Burnham | May 20, 2013
Google announced a complete overhaul of its social network, Google+, at this week's I/O conference in San Francisco. Here's an in-depth look at all the changes and why they make Google+ better.

To prevent Google from adding hashtags to any of your posts, visit your privacy settings page, click the Google+ tab and scroll to the bottom. Under the "Hashtags" section, uncheck the box next to "Add related hashtags from Google on my newly created posts."

Google Launches Standalone Hangouts App
Google's new standalone app for Hangouts combines text, photos and live video across Android, iOS and desktop versions.

The Hangouts app supports emoticons, saves your conversation history (which you can disable) and manages notifications so once you receive and view it on one device, it will be cleared from your other Android devices and computers.

Video calls are still free using the Hangouts app, which you can download from Google Play, Apple's App Store and Chrome's Web Store.

New Photo-Editing Capabilities
Google also launched a photo-editing suite for images you upload to Google+ and store in Google Drive.

A backup feature automatically saves your mobile pictures to Drive when you take them. All users receive unlimited free storage at standard size (2048px) and 15GB of free storage at full size. Google will ask your permission to enable this feature, and you can choose to turn it off at any time.

"Auto Highlight" is a smart photo-recognition feature that helps you weed out duplicate photos, blurry images and poor exposures. Auto-enhance is a new feature that improves the brightness, contrast and saturation of photos you take. To access this, open the "lightbox" to enable the enhancements.

Last is a feature Google calls "auto-awesome," which creates a new image based on a set of photos in your library, such as a sequence of photos, and animates them. Or, you can upload a series of family portraits and Google will stitch together everyone's smiles.


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