David Bloom is a Deadline contributor.
There wasn’t a whiff of talk about its next phone or mobile operating system in today’s Google announcements but plenty of other cool bits of news. SVP Engineering Vic Gundotra talked up rapid growth in the 2-year-old Google Plus, which gets little love from tech pundits but has blossomed into the second-largest social-media platform. Gundotra said the site now has 300 million active users and 540 million people who have accessed the site in the past month. Both are giant jumps from just a year ago.
Gundotra unveiled a raft of improvements to one of Google Plus’ most compelling capabilities, its Hangouts, free video chat rooms that can have audiences and be automatically recorded to YouTube. The latest additions will make it easier for people and businesses to set up, promote and produce Hangouts, with landing pages for scheduled public Hangouts and improved production capabilities, such as being able to control the volume or presence of an individual participant. “It’s like having a satellite truck in your pocket,” Gundotra said.
By default, the Hangouts will now be recorded in high-definition video on all devices and automatically improve lighting exposure for each video stream.
The company also unveiled automatic tools to help users wade through all those photos and videos, pick the good ones, further enhance them and assemble them into longer movies, complete with choice of “dozens and dozens and dozens” of licensed background music tracks. Among the company’s new tools is Auto Awesome Movie, which will assemble a designated set of videos and stills into a movie that can be further manually tweaked and trimmed and edited.
“Photography today is too hard,” Gundotra said. “It’s a nightmare. The truth of the matter is people have these beautiful treasures that have become stranded in these digital devices.”