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Google+ photos get new tools, auto adjusts at I/O

New features to Google+'s photo sharing add a handful of automation tools that speed up editing and sorting.

Now playing: Watch this: Google I/O: Pictures get new love from Google+

Google's adding some new firepower to its photo-hosting service on Google+ with features designed to save people time when dumping their photos into the cloud.

Key among them is a feature that will automatically back up photos taken on smartphones and send them to Google's cloud storage. The move follows similar efforts from Dropbox, and more recently Amazon, to provide peace of mind for people who aren't manually backing up their files.

For files that have already been uploaded, Google also has new tools to automatically edit and adjust behind the scenes. That includes a new highlight tool that will strip out duplicates or photos that Google's algorithm deems badly taken simply based on their metadata, and will surface only the good ones. This doesn't delete the "bad" photos, however. Google also can now automatically enhance your photos as a batch.

The changes were unveiled during the company's keynote event at I/O, Google's annual developers conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Google, in particular, talked up the auto enhancements and good photo selections as ways to save users time, and help make their photos look better. That includes skin softening, noise reduction, and red-eye removal. Google also said it can determine the quality of photos based on where it was snapped, taking into account things like nearby local landmarks.

There's also what Google calls an "Auto-Awesome" tool that can take several photos and turn them into a panorama, a high-dynamic range shot, and even an animated image if several shots are taken together in quick succession. There are five tools to start with, and Google is suggesting it plans to add more over time.

Photo hosting has become one of the most popular activities on social networks. Facebook became the world's largest photo host in 2008, and now its users upload more than 350 million new photos a day.

James Martin/CNET
James Martin/CNET
James Martin/CNET