At Google I/O 2013, Google announced that Google+ was going to get 41 new features in the coming year. Those new features will be added to three key areas - stream, hangouts and photos.
The first major change is an entire upheaval of the Google+ stream on desktop from a single column to a multi-column design. Some photos and videos will take up multiple columns while smaller stories will take up one out of three columns.
Google is also introducing a new feature called related hashtags. In short, it tags stories based on contextual clues from photos and posts. One example is a photo of the Eifel Tower being tagged #eifeltower based solely on Google's image algorithm recognizing the subject of the photo.
For Hangouts, Google is introducing an app called Hangouts that's separate from Google+. It's kind of like Facebook Messenger, but with all of the sharing and video chat capabilities found in Google+ Hangouts. Google says that those participating in the Hangout app will feel like they're in the same room together.
Photos on Google+ will be adopting a new philosophy of "Your darkroom is a datacenter." In other words, photographers on Google+ will be able to utilize Google's cloud technology to make highlighting and sorting photos easier. The latter is especially impressive as Google+ can now automatically sort photos by landmark, human presence, aesthetics and other indicators. Photos will also be getting auto-enhance - a new application that automatically applies image enhancements without having to use complicated software like Photoshop.
The final feature is called "auto-awesome." One of its applications is called motion - it will take photos that are taken in burst mode and turn them into animated .gifs. The motion application is only one of five new features comprising the auto-awesome feature. Some other auto-awesome features include HDR and auto-collage.
Most of these new features, including the new stream, will be rolling out to Google+ this afternoon.