Your guide to the new features on Google+

Google+ is releasing its new look and features this week. See what's in store for your Stream, apps, Hangouts and more.

Google+ is definitely not all things to all people, nor does Google want it to be. It does offer some great features and a relatively uncluttered interface, and this week's release of a few new features might attract some new users. Here's what you can expect to see by Friday:

  • The most significant changes come to your navigation. With the new design, you'll move around over on the left instead of up top, and there are some neat new changes to the ribbon. Some of the button items will show you options when you hover over them, speeding up your social maneuvering, and every one of them can be dragged and dropped into the ordering you prefer. If you've got an app you can't live without, just drag it into the More section for quick access.

New Google+ Navigation.
New Google+ Navigation. Rob Lightner/CNET

  • The look is somewhat cleaner and easier to scan through. Conversations are gently separated into "cards" that make browsing easier on the eyes. Photos and videos are sharper and pop out of the screen. Each conversation card now features an "activity drawer" accessible from the bottom right that shows reshares and +1s.
Activity Drawer in Google+.
Activity Drawer in Google+. Rob Lightner/CNET

  • One of the key features in Google+ is Hangouts, the easy social-meeting spaces that make real-time video connections as simple as possible. Google has made it much easier to find and join Hangouts. Your Invite list is continually updated, and public or On Air Hangouts are easily searchable. Popular Hangouts are listed and refreshed regularly.
Browsing Google+ Hangouts.
Browsing Google+ Hangouts. Rob Lightner/CNET

That's it for now. Google is promising more new features to come, but we'll just have to wait to see what they cook up next.