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Google+ boosts photo, chat featuresThe social network is flexing new photo and video muscle to lure in content creators. Also, Amazon sells cheap e-books with the MatchBook program.
Google Plus wants to be your go-to app for photos. I'm Bridget Carey and this is your CNET Update. Google added new features for chatting and editing photos on the Google Plus social network. The Hangouts chat service now has location sharing which shares a little map of where you are and it's a great way to tell someone how to meet you from your smartphone. It's something already being done on a few other messaging apps. Also a Hangout chat can support sharing animated GIFs when you wanna be late lighthearted and it can work with SMS text messages. As for video calling, Hangouts offers high-def calls and the service can auto enhance lighting from your webcam. It throws in a few artsy tools that that like you blur the background or chat in black and white. But the bulk of the changes center around new photo sharing tools because Google is really pushing for you to use the network as a photo backup and sharing service. An update to the Google Plus app on iOS will upload all photos at full resolution and it will have the option to automatically backup and sync your iPhone or iPad photos in the background. Google can actually recognize over a thousand types of objects in your photos. So, if you type in sunset or snowman into search, it can pull up photos that you took of those objects. The auto enhance improves the look of the photos uploaded to Google Plus and there's more control to dial the changes up or down. There's also a new auto awesome features like merging serveral action sequences into one shot, it creates this strobe effect. The eraser tool lets you remove someone or something that got in the way of your shot assuming you took a series of photos. And movie is self-explanatory, it builds a highlight real mashup of your photos and videos with effects, transitions and a soundtrack and it can be customized. The movie effect only works with certain Android 4.3 devices but the other app features are more widely supported and roll out this week. If you've ever bought print books from Amazon, you can now buy digital versions of those books at a low price. Amazon launched the Kindle MatchBook Program and it lets customers buy a discounted Kindle version of certain print books that were purchased new from Amazon, even if it was bought back when the websie launched in 1995. The digital copies cost as much as $3 and some are free. More than 70,000 books are part of the program and even if you don't own a Kindle, you can access these digital copies from a Kindle app on a smartphone or tablet. Amazon also has a program for discounted audio books when you buy Kindle e-book. That's your tech news update for today, but you can find more details on the show blog at cnet.com/update and be sure to following along on Twitter. From our studios in New York, I'm Bridget Carey.