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Google+ reaches 300m active users as social site receives major updates

30 Oct 2013

Google+ has launched a host of improvements for a range of its services – including photos, videos and hangouts – as the social network passes 300 million monthly active users.

In an announcement dominated by improvements to its photo uploading and sharing services – which now see 1.5 billion images uploaded every week – Google also unveiled updates to help business users hosting their own online broadcasts as well as companies embedded in the Google Apps ecosystem.

Google's Hangouts app is now compatible with SMS messages, meaning the mobile app now acts as a catch-all for Google+ and text messages, which will be useful for users who communicate via a mix of messaging mediums. In addition, users will now be able to share their location with friends and colleagues within chat threads without having to leave the Google+ mobile app (below).

Google Plus now allows location sharing within chat threads

Elsewhere, video-streaming functionality has received a boost in Hangouts, allowing users to access a new Control Room to adjust the volume of individual contributors as well as to remove users from a call. The quality of video will also improve, with the latest update said to fix and enhance the lighting of webcam video.

Google+'s glut of photo improvements include full-sized background syncing of photos taken on mobiles, more image auto-enhancements and creative tools to add and erase objects from images using its "Auto Awesome" tool.

Searching through unlabelled photos has also been made easier, with Google adding more than 1,000 objects, which it claims its search algorithms can recognise in images, meaning users can search for objects such as trees or sunsets without them having been tagged in the picture.

The updates will be rolled out beginning this week, with improvements to Hangouts coming within "the next few weeks".

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Michael Passingham

Michael Passingham joined V3 as a reporter in June 2013. Prior to working at V3, Michael spent time at computing magazine PC Pro. Michael covers IT skills, social media, tech startups and also produces V3's video content.

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