Google+: 'Tis the Season for Shipping
December 14, 2012

Update 7:56AM PT: We're rolling out new Android (v3.3) and iOS (v4.0) apps today!

While it was tempting to give away one Google+ gift a day for the rest of the month, we thought it'd be more practical to wrap everything together in one holiday package.

This #seasonforshipping we’ve tried to think of a gift for everyone. Whether you’re an iPhone or Android addict, a budding broadcaster, or the resident party planner, there’s a feature for each of you in our last big launch of the year: 18 24 treats to make sharing and communicating easier and more fun than ever.

Giving you the best mobile and photo experiences

From the start, the Google+ team has been committed to building an industry-leading mobile experience. Today we’re adding a new batch of Android features, including on-the-go profile editing, an easier way to author content, and a subtle notice when there's new stuff to read. You can also subscribe to mobile notifications from your favorite circles and interact with Google+ Communities on your phone or tablet.

We’re especially excited about our photo improvements—a core part of Google+, and one which you’ve consistently told us means a lot to you.

On Android, we're now offering full-size backups of your photos (up to 5GB free), in addition to the standard-size option (unlimited free storage at 2048px). To give it a try, simply turn on Instant Upload and start taking pictures: photos you shoot will be saved to a private album on Google+.

We're also bringing photo spheres to the mobile stream. You'll need Android 4.2 to create these 360-degree panoramas, but any Froyo-or-later user can now enjoy them.

On iOS, our new version lets you swipe through photo albums inline; you can tap once to view photos in all their glory; and the iPhone app now applies a subtle pan-zoom-scale effect to pictures in the stream.

Connecting with friends and family

Just in time for holiday office parties and the New Year’s bash, we’re unleashing extra features to make event planning easier. Through Events, you can now send messages to specific guests and see who’s opened your invitation. You can invite people through Google+ or by simply copying the URL of your event into an email or IM, and your guests can RSVP with the number of people they’re bringing (no more excuses for unexpected guests!).

For those who can’t attend your party in person, Hangouts offers a free and convenient way to keep in touch. Today, we’re making it possible to connect with friends even in parts of the world with extremely low bandwidth. Once enabled, you'll only need about 150 kbps of bandwidth to be in a hangout.

After all the dust settles, we're also making it easier to plan a second (and third, and fourth) party this holiday season. Just duplicate your original event, and we'll pull in all the important details.

Stocking stuffers

Finally, it wouldn’t be the holidays without a few stocking stuffers.

To encourage you all to take advantage of Hangouts On Air, we’re creating a better broadcast experience: if you're the only participant, we'll automatically hide the "filmstrip" of faces and expand your video to fill the entire feed.

On iOS, you'll see new conversation cards that really shine a light on your content—from longer snippets to bigger photos to comments that slide in beneath each post. On Android, we’re giving you , animated GIFs, birthday reminders in Google Now, and a lock screen widget.

The mobile apps are rolling out later today to both Google Play (v3.3) and the App Store (v4.0), and all your other presents should arrive in the next day or so. So much better than a Google+ Christmas sweater or fruitcake, right?

Posted by Dave Besbris, Vice President of Engineering