Tag Archives: Vic Gundotra

Toward a simpler, more beautiful Google

More than 170 million people have upgraded to Google+, enjoying new ways to share in Search, Gmail, YouTube and lots of other places. It’s still early days, and there’s plenty left to do, but we’re more excited than ever to build a seamless social experience, all across Google.

A critical piece of this social layer is a design that grows alongside our aspirations. So today we’re introducing a more functional and flexible version of Google+. We think you’ll find it easier to use and nicer to look at, but most importantly, it accelerates our efforts to create a simpler, more beautiful Google.

Navigation you can make your own
One of the first things you’ll notice is a new way to get around the stream. Instead of static icons at the top, there’s a dynamic ribbon of applications on the left. This approach comes with lots of perks, but some of our favorites include:

  • You can drag apps up or down to create the order you want
  • You can hover over certain apps to reveal a set of quick actions
  • You can show or hide apps by moving them in and out of “More”

Taken together, these powers make it easier to access your favorites, and to adjust your preferences over time. We’ve also built the ribbon with the future in mind, giving us an obvious (and clutter-free) space for The Next Big Feature, and The Feature After That. So stay tuned.

Conversations you’ll really care about
Once you’ve upgraded to Google+, it’s easy to share with your circles from just about anywhere. We’re dreaming bigger, though. We’re aiming for an experience that fuses utility with beauty—one that inspires you to connect with others, and cherish the conversations that unfold. Today’s update is an important step in this direction, including:

  • Full bleed photos and videos that’ll make you really proud to post
  • A stream of conversation “cards” that make it easier to scan and join discussions
  • An activity drawer that highlights the community around your content


Simply put, we’re hoping to make sharing more awesome by making it more evocative. You know that feeling you get when a piece of art takes your breath away, or when a friend stops by with unexpected gifts? We want sharing to feel like that, every single time.

A new home for hanging out
Google+ Hangouts uses live video to bring people together, and the results range from heartwarming to breathtaking to music-making. Today we’re adding a dedicated Hangouts page that creates even more opportunities to connect in person, including:

  • An always-updated list of invitations from the people in your circles
  • Quick access to every public and On Air hangout, for those times when you want to meet someone new, or watch a live broadcast
  • A rotating billboard of popular hangouts, pro tips and other items you don’t want to miss


By highlighting all the hangouts you can join, all over the world, it’s now easier to spend time together—even be there for each other. And with efforts like hangout apps already underway, you can expect more hangouts in more places in the future.

Getting there from here
Today’s Google+ update extends beyond navigation, the stream and hangouts. For instance: there’s a new Explore page that shows what’s interesting and trending across the network. And a new profile with much bigger photos. And a new chat list that puts your friends front and center. And a whole lot more.

We’re rolling out all of these improvements over the next few days, so please check back if you don’t see them yet. In the meantime, you can visit this overview to learn more.

By focusing on you, the people you care about, and the stuff you’re into, we’re going to continue upgrading all the features you already know and love—from Search and Maps to Gmail and YouTube. With today’s foundational changes we can move even faster—toward a simpler, more beautiful Google.

Google+ Hangouts: going beyond the status update

All too often, physical distance and frantic schedules get in the way of spending time together, especially during the holidays. But you know what? They don’t have to.

With Google+ Hangouts, you can go beyond “status updates,” and connect with the people you care about using multi-person video. For free. And today we’re rolling out a number of improvements that make it even easier to say hello to your loved ones, face-to-face-to-face.

Upgrade any conversation from long-form to live
Certain posts act as kindling for face-to-face interaction. Suppose your sister gets engaged, or your roommate lands a job, or your favorite singer shares their concert schedule. You can obviously write comments back and forth, but it’s moments like these when you really want to connect in person. That’s why we’re making it easy to start a hangout from any post on Google+.

Just click “Hangout” underneath a post that you’re passionate about, and we’ll add your invitation to the comments. If others are hanging out already, you’ll see their invitation in the comments as well.

Starting a hangout on a post (left); Joining a hangout already in progress (right)

The desire to “go live” isn’t limited to your desktop computer, of course, so we’re also bringing hangouts to Google+ Messenger on mobile devices. Simply tap the new hangout icon when the time is right, and you’ll flip from text and photos to smiles and laughter.

Google+ Messenger: tap once to start a hangout (left); tap again to continue typing (right)

The new Google+ app will be available in Android Market within a few days, and it’s coming soon to the App Store.

Broadcast and record what matters most
The Black Eyed Peas, the Dalai Lama and even the Muppets have all used Hangouts On Air to share their performances and peace talks with the world. On Air is still under active development, but today we’re doing three things to get us closer to general availability:

  • We’re turning it on for hundreds more public figures, celebrities and other Google+ users with large followings
  • We’re making Hangouts On Air completely self-service, so you can broadcast whenever you’re in the mood
  • We’re integrating it with YouTube, so once you’re off the air, we’ll upload a full-length (and private) recording to your account
Starting an On Air hangout (left); Watching an On Air hangout in the stream (right)

To get started, just look for the new “broadcast and record” option after starting a hangout. If you don’t see it yet, then don’t worry: we’re working hard to give everyone the chance to go On Air.

In the meantime, you can still watch or join On Air broadcasts directly from the stream. Just look for the red banner while reading your posts or checking your hair, and you’ll know you’re in the right place.

Dial-in friends and family, from all over the world
Not everyone has a webcam or a front-facing mobile camera, but that shouldn’t stop them from spending time with the people they’re close to. Fortunately, nearly everyone has a telephone, and today we’re making it possible to dial-in anyone, from almost any country, directly into your hangout. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are free, and international calling rates are super, super low.

Dial-in hangout participants from almost anywhere

Never miss a chance to connect
When friends and family invite you to hang out on Google+, we want to make sure the opportunity doesn’t pass you by. So we’re making active hangouts more accessible in two important ways:

  • On the right-hand side of the stream, you’ll see up to three live hangouts that you can join
  • Whether you’re at your desk or on the go, we’ll ring your device and notify you when you’re invited to a hangout
From left to right: live hangouts you can join; desktop notification in chat; mobile notification

Whether it’s sharing baby news, or your niece’s new dance moves, Google+ users continue to use hangouts to build intimate onscreen experiences. We hope these two improvements help you discover more of them, more often.

Have some fun, add some antlers
Back in NMovember, we helped the Google+ community add millions of virtual moustaches to their faces. Now that it’s December we’re introducing a pair of antlers, so by all means, unleash your inner reindeer! Looking ahead, developers will be able to create their own effects using the updated Hangouts API, so stay tuned for lots more fun.

Moustaches in Movember (left); Antlers in December (right)

By bringing people together, face-to-face-to-face, we’re hoping to make the world a bit cozier, and lift people’s spirits a bit higher. So give hangouts a try this holiday season, and let us know what you think.

Shipping the Google in Google+

A few weeks ago Larry mentioned that we’d start shipping the Google part of Google+. The Android team then launched Ice Cream Sandwich, with a focus on improved sharing via Google+. And today we’re rolling out two more Google+ features that integrate with two more Google products: YouTube and Chrome.

YouTube
It’s no secret that YouTube is filled with tons of great content (from inspiring speeches to music videos to honey badgers). We wanted to bring YouTube directly into Google+—as well as make it easier to watch and share your favorites—so we’re launching a YouTube “slider” in the stream. Here’s how it works:

  • Mouse over the new YouTube icon at the top right of Google+
  • It’ll slide out and ask, “What would you like to play”?
  • Enter whatever you’re in the mood for (like a topic or a musical artist)

We’ll start playing a list of related videos in a new pop-up window, and if you move the pop-up elsewhere, you can still navigate your playlist from the slider:

From left to right: YouTube slider (closed), slider (open), pop-up playlist, slider (while playing)

Sharing YouTube videos with your circles also works (of course), but there’s a nice little twist: the people you share with can open a related playlist directly from your post! Last but not least, we’re starting to include YouTube playlists in Google+ search results.

YouTube video in the stream (left), YouTube playlist in Google+ search results (right)

Chrome
We’re also rolling out two new Google+ Chrome extensions:

  • +1 button: +1 any webpage and share it with your circles
  • Notifications: check your Google+ notifications while you browse the web

Of course, if you don’t use Chrome, then you can use Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer. The new version—also rolling out today—includes these same sharing and notification features.

Google+ Chrome extensions: +1 button (left), notifications (right)

We’ve got lots more planned for Google+, YouTube and Chrome (and all the other Google products you already use). But we hope you enjoy today’s small taste of shipping the Google in Google+.

Google+: 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99… 100.

For our international readers, this post is also available in Chinese, French, German, Italian, JapanesePortuguese, Russian and Spanish (Latin America, Spain). – Ed.

The Google+ project has been in field trial for just under 90 days, and in that time we’ve made 91 different improvements (many of which are posted here). Google+ is still in its infancy, of course, but we’re more excited than ever to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software. Today we’re releasing nine more features that get us that much closer.

+Hangouts: more places, more people, more to do

Hangouts uses live video to bring people together, face-to-face-to-face. And from day one, the community has shaped and stretched the feature in amazing ways—from cooking classes to game shows to music concerts. We’re determined to keep this momentum going, and to keep providing new ways to communicate in-person, so we hope you enjoy this week’s round of Hangouts improvements.

92. Hangouts on your phone
In life we connect with others in all sorts of places, at all different times. And the connections you make unexpectedly are often the ones you remember the most. We think Hangouts should keep pace with how you socialize in the real-world, so today we’re launching it on the one device that’s always by your side: your mobile phone. To get started, simply find an active hangout in the Stream, and tap “Join”:

Hangouts on your phone: Stream View (left), Green Room (center), Portrait Mode (right)

Hangouts currently supports Android 2.3+ devices with front-facing cameras (and iOS support is coming soon). The new mobile app is rolling out to Android Market today, so you can start hanging out at any time, from just about anywhere.

93. Hangouts On Air
Google+ users already use Hangouts to create intimate onscreen experiences—with family members, prayer groups, even people with certain medical conditions. But sometimes you want to speak to a large audience, or alternatively, view as a spectator. In these cases a public broadcast is what’s needed, so today we’re introducing Hangouts On Air.

The setup is simple enough: just start a normal hangout, and you’ll have the option to broadcast and record your session. Once you’re “On Air,” up to nine others can join your hangout (as usual), and anyone can watch your live broadcast:

Hangouts On Air: Stream View (left), Full-screen Mode (right)

We’re starting with a limited number of broadcasters, but any member of the Google+ community can tune in. In fact: we’ll be hosting our very first On Air hangout with will.i.am on Wednesday night, September 21. For more information visit will.i.am’s or my profile on Google+.

94, 95, 96, 97. Hangouts with extras
Spending time together goes hand in hand with actually doing things together. Dinner with family can easily turn into movie night at the local theater, for instance. And running into old friends can inspire anything from photo sharing to vacation planning. Hangouts has always included a basic set of in-room actions (like group chat and co-viewing of YouTube videos), but we want to make it easier to do a lot more. That’s why we’re previewing some extras, including:

  • Screensharing: for when you want to show off your vacation photos, your high score, your lesson plan or whatever else is on your screen
  • Sketchpad: for when you want to draw, doodle, or just scribble together
  • Google Docs: for when you want to write, plan or present something with others
  • Named Hangouts: for when you want to join or create a public hangout about a certain topic (like fashion or music or sports…) 
Hangouts with extras: Screensharing (left), Sketchpad (right)

Hangouts with extras: Docs (left), Named Hangouts (right)

The extras are still under construction, but we wanted to preview these features and get your feedback sooner versus later. So start a hangout, click “Try Hangouts with extras” in the green room, and let us know what you think.

98. Hangouts APIs
If field trial has taught us anything about Hangouts, it’s that the community is overflowing with creative individuals. So in the wake of last week’s Google+ API launch, we’re also releasing a basic set of Hangouts APIs. If you’re a developer who wants to build new kinds of apps and games (and who-knows-what-else), then you can find more details on the Google+ platform blog.

+Search: find the people and posts you care about

99. Search in Google+
You’ve been asking for it, and we’ve been busy building it, so today we’re bringing Google’s search expertise to Google+. Just type what you’re looking for into the Google+ search box, and we’ll return relevant people and posts, as well as popular content from around the web.

If you’re into photography, for example, then you’ll see other enthusiasts and lots of great pictures. If you care more about cooking, then you’ll see other chefs and food from around the globe. In all cases, Google+ search results include items that only you can see, so family updates are just as easy to find as international news.

Search in Google+: photography (left), cooking (right)

With more than 1 billion items shared and received every day, we’re excited to see how search will connect people through their posts on Google+.

+Everyone

100. Anyone can sign up for Google+—no invitation required.
For the past 12 weeks we’ve been in field trial, and during that time we’ve listened and learned a great deal. We’re nowhere near done, but with the improvements we’ve made so far we’re ready to move from field trial to beta, and introduce our 100th feature: open signups. This way anyone can visit google.com/+, join the project and connect with the people they care about.

Over the next day we’ll be rolling out all of these features globally. In the meantime, you can check out what’s next in Google+.