Today, Google+ introduced 18 new features  that will improve Google+ Hangouts and Photos. The updates are designed to make it easier for users to integrate their lives with the social media platform. For instance, Google+ Hangout now supports location sharing and SMS, and also allows animated GIFs to play inline. As for photos and videos, Google+ introduced a whole set of new ways to manage and optimize photos, from allowing users to backup their photos to offering options for enhancements and filters.
David Carrillo, Manager of Earned Media, adds that the new changes “seem less focused on typical social network functionality and more on integrating with everyday life – which is Google’s aim.
Google+ wasn’t designed to be a social network to compete directly with Facebook and Twitter. It is a social layer that sits on top of all other Google products and services, tying them together via a single human login that aggregates and collects data about the individual. And the more hooks Google has into an individual— through email, calendar, photo sharing and yes, social networking—the better data it can collect about that person and individuals with similar interests in aggregate for ad targeting.
Google wants to keep people within the Google eco-system for as many of their daily tasks as possible, which is exactly what these latest features are designed to do. Why leave Google to Photoshop when you have Snapseed? Why leave Google to SMS when you have Hangout? Google is making itself a valuable user platform on the web and in mobile, and any traction it gets as a social network is just an added bonus.”
By expanding the functionality of Google+, Google is giving its users more of a reason to use Google as a base of operations, or in other words, as a site that can integrate all of their daily online needs into one destination. In the era of big data, that’s not a bad strategy to have.”