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Google+ fires up its photo features

The company announces a bevy of photography upgrades, including improved tools for photo editing and search.

Google introduced new photography features for Google+ on Tuesday.
Richard Nieva/CNET
SAN FRANCISCO -- Google's social network might not have the fire power the company would like, especially now that Facebook has gone public and Twitter is on its way to doing so. But Google+ has steady footing in some sets.

Shutterbugs, in particular, have embraced the service and on Tuesday Google doubled down on these users, adding a bevy of photography tools.

The company gathered press and attendees to NWBLK, a warehouse here that had been transformed into a gallery, with vibrant photos hanging on the walls taken by Google+ users.

"We are not building a service for lightweight sharing," said Vic Gundotra, senior vice president of engineering at Google. He added that the service is "revolutionizing the field of photography."

The new features include new algorithms that let users search more easily through big dumps of photos and better back up photo files. With the app Snapseed, users can add HDR filters that automatically fix and brighten photos in low light. The company also introduced Auto Awesome Movie, a live video version of its photo editing feature, that lets users create quick films by stringing together movie clips. The software adds background music and filters. Google also improved its Hangout feature, adding things like location sharing and support for animated GIFs.

Gundorta also announced that Google+ has 300 million "in-stream" users -- or people who actively view the main news page or feed -- and that 1.5 billion photos are uploaded each week on the service.

Google's game plan has been to sprinkle Google+'s social features throughout all of the company's different services. Earlier this month, the company announced an initiative that would allow it to use people's Google+ photos and comments, as well as other data culled from Google's ecosystem, in advertisements.

Appealing to photographers is in line with what Google has already been trying to do with its social network. The company has also targeted writers and other content creators, using information from their Google+ profiles to tie them them to their work when they are searched online.