Google Plus is a relatively new social media platform since it was launched in June of 2011, but it’s not exactly the same as your friendly, average “Facebook”. You can add “friends” by adding them to your circles. You can also make lists of circles, add people, and label them “Acquaintances” or any title of your choice. If you add them to your circles, it doesn’t mean they added you, much like the Twitter “Follow” feature. They can add you back or not, however this doesn’t mean that you’ll see their posts.
If they choose to publish posts to the “Public,” anyone can see the post. If they only choose their “circles”, you won’t be able to see anything unless you are in the circle they specified and vice versa. Unlike Twitter, Google Plus posts are NOT restricted to a character limit.
Each Google Plus post has a URL that can appear in Google Search results under certain conditions. If you are signed in your Google account then when you search something you will see posts and images by people that are in your circles in Google+. You can also turn this feature off.
Furthermore, Google Plus has automatic picture effect features. When you’re signed in on Google Plus, on the left hand side you’ll see the words “Home.” When you hover over “home” it displays the drop-down menu. Choose “settings” to find your Google Plus Auto Awesome feature.
In the settings page you can see the “Auto Enhance” section which are features that automatically enhance any photo you upload when you add new photos. Auto Enhance makes subtle adjustments according to Google, such as removing red-eye and improving the lighting. Google Plus has one-upped this feature with Google Plus “Auto Awesome” which automatically creates special effects and adds them to your photos.
Directly below “Auto Enhance” in the settings tab is the Google Plus Auto Awesome section. Here you can turn the “Auto Awesome” features on or off by checking or un-checking the box, respectively. These features are automatic and you receive a notification when Google uses them.
One day, Google Plus informed me that I had an “Auto Awesome” photo added. Granted, I have the feature “Auto Backup” turned on so Google Plus can automatically upload pictures from my iPhone (in case I delete them) onto Google Plus, but it doesn’t share them without my permission. I thought that’s what the notification was referring to but when I clicked on that notification there was the image and a motion graphic. It was a collection of the images on my iPhone that I had just photographed. But then I was surprised that it chose very similar images that were taken the same day to make a collage and a slideshow. When I expanded the collage, I saw an option at the top left that said “Share,” which to my relief meant that my photo hadn’t, in fact, been shared without my permission.
Would this be a violation of privacy otherwise? Probably. However, even though this feature can be shut off, I still am not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, who doesn’t like Google Plus auto awesome collages? And the slideshow effect, which is actually called “Motion,” is pretty neat!
My only real complaint is that these features are automatic, meaning you cannot do it manually and you cannot choose your own effects. And for some reason, Google likes it this way.
I suppose the Google Plus Auto Awesome feature is meant to surprise you like a fortune cookie where your eagerly anticipate a printed prophecy detailing your luck. But wouldn’t it be better if we could enhance pictures to OUR liking?
What are YOUR thoughts?