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The Year in Review 2015: Google for Content Creators, Collectors and Consumers

2015 was a busy year at Google. Alphabet became the new parent company with Google just one of its subsidiaries, and naturally that was followed by a new Google logo. There were retirements (Helpouts), major launches (Google Photos, YouTube Gaming) and big changes (Google+, Hangouts).

If you want the big picture, read on and check out the 2015 timeline. I've also put together more detailed overviews of the changes to Google+PhotosLocal Businesses and Pages, YouTube for viewers, YouTube Creators and Partners, live streaming, HangoutsBlogger and AdSense.

What happened in the Google universe in 2015? 

This year's biggest change? After half a year of streamlining, Google announced that Google+ is no longer the "social layer" across Google products and services. Instead it's going it alone, with a more "focused experience" and an emphasis on content. To that end, 2015 saw the launch of Collections and the ongoing separation of Photos, Hangouts, Local Bu…

Week in Review - December 19, 2105: YouTube for Good, Google+ updates, Fi for tablets

Google, Twitter and Facebook look back at 2015. YouTube introduces Donation Cards, Project Fi offers data only SIMs, new Google+ updates for desktop and iOS, and Open Live Writer now supports Blogger. Plus updates and tips for Live Streamers, YouTube Creators, Google+ Collectors, AdSense Publishers, readers, travelers and Nexus lovers.

Image: Christmas Cookies by Kristin Ausk on Flickr, shared under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license

Week in Review - December 12: Shared Photo Albums, Blogger Featured Posts, Trending YouTube Videos

So.many.updates! Shared albums on Google Photos, Featured Post gadget on Blogger, Trending videos on YouTube, new emoji in Android 6.0.1, Reminders in Google Calendar, plus updates for the Google+ web preview, YouTube Gaming, AdSense mobile ads, the Pixel C Android tablet and much more.

It’s that time of the year...
Jingle all the way to Santa's Village (Google Blog)Celebrating what you created, watched and shared in 2015 with #YouTubeRewindAnd the top ads of 2015 on YouTube are...YouTube Rewind Now is the time to sign up for the Christmas Bird Count!

Image: Purple Finch from The birds of America : from drawings made in the United States and their territories (1840) by : Audubon, John James and Bowen, John T.,

Week in review - December 5, 2015: VR Photos, Google+ Updates, Google My Business Tips

This week there are tips for small businesses, new options to view photo spheres and take VR photos, improvements in the new Google+, and easier ways to add images to your Blogger blog and bookmark Google image search results. Plus get tips and updates for AdSense publishers, YouTube creators, live broadcasters and more.

Image detail from stereograph of woman viewing a stereograph:  "The stereograph as an educator - Underwood patent extension cabinet in a home library." (1901)

Week in Review - November 28, 2015: Google+, YouTube, Local Businesses and more

Happy Thanksgiving! This week is all about Google+:  tips and updates for the new Google+, the new option to set up a G+-free YouTube channel, and changes to Local Pages. Plus more tips for your Photos, Hangouts, YouTube, Local Businesses and more!

Gobble gobble gobble!

Create a new YouTube Channel without Google+

Now when you create a new YouTube channel, the new channel will not be connected to Google+ unless you want to use an identity different from your main Google identity. New YouTube channels use the name and profile photo from your Google About Me page (aboutme.google.com).

Note: As of the end of 2016, you can create a new YouTube channel for your Business or Brand without Google+. Learn more here:Create a YouTube Channel for your Brand, Business, Organization or Band

Create a new YouTube channel without Google+ using your Google account nameReasons to use or keep a Google+ Profile (some features require G+)Create a YouTube channel with a business or other name connected to a Google+ PageWhat happens to YouTube if you delete your Google+ Profile?What if your channel has never been connected to Google+? Confirm your name!

Picasa Web Albums is the new (old) home of your public photo gallery

Note: August 1, 2016, Picasa Web Albums will be retired. All albums can be accessed in the new Google Album Archive. You can share a link to the Album Archive for others to view your public and shared albums. 

The URL is :
get.google.com/albumarchive/[21-digit user ID]

Learn more about how to use the Album Archive.

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In December 2013 Google+ removed albums from the profile Photos tab,  changing the profile design to display photos of you and "Highlights". If you figured out the link to your Google+ album gallery page, you could share it. That worked until last week when all Google+ Photos links started redirecting to Google Photos.

I think Google Photos is pretty good for basic image editing and album organization, but it's designed for private storage and sharing of your photos. You can share a link to individual images or albums, but there is no publicly accessible "Gallery" you can use to showcase your photos to the public.

But never fear…

Week in Review - November 21, 2015: New Google+, Google Photos and more

This week the new Google+ launched, with a snappier interface, redesigned profiles and simplified features. The new Google+ is “focused around interests” with an emphasis on Collections and Communities. It’s still a work in progress, and you can opt in (and back out) on the web by simply clicking a link.

Where is everything?
Hangouts can be accessed at hangouts.google.com , in Gmail, and using the Chrome Hangouts app or extension.Events are available in the Android Google+ app and the Classic G+ interfaceHangouts on Air can be scheduled starting from hangouts.google.com or YouTube Live Events, or by switching back to Classic G+Links to Google+ Photos “highlights” and albums redirect to Google Photos, meaning you can only access your Blogger and Hangouts image albums in Picasa Web Albums. There are more details below.

If you try the new Google+, be sure to send feedback to Google+ directly to let them know what you like, dislike and which features are essential to you. How to send effe…

How to restore a deleted Google+ Page (and its YouTube channel) at Google My Business

Note: As of January 25, 2017, Google My Business no longer supports Google+ Brand Pages. 

In addition, Google+ Pages and YouTube channels are now separate Google Services on a Brand Account. You can find all your Brand Accounts at myaccount.google.com/brandaccounts

If you deleted a Brand Account, follow the instructions here to restore it:
Manage your Brand Account

If you only deleted your Google+ Page or only deleted your YouTube channel, there is no way to restore it.

-----Original Article -----
A Google+ Page is like a sub-account of your main Google account. It lets you use a different identity for Google+ or YouTube than your main Google account identity or real name.

In September management of Google+ Pages was moved from Google+ (plus.google.com/dashboard) to Google My Business (business.google.com/manage/). That is where you can manage your existing Google+ Brand Pages or create a new Brand Page.

You can also restore deleted Google+ Pages on your Google My Business dashboard.

W…

Week in Review - November 14, 2015: YouTube Music, Hangouts Video Calls, About Me and more

This week YouTube Music launched, Hangouts streamlined the video call experience, you can control what people see about you on your new Google About Me page (aboutme.google.com) and use Google Maps to navigate even when you are offline. And there are tips and updates for AdSense, Google+, Hangouts on Air, Inbox by Gmail and more.

Image: Seine and Eiffel-tower in the sunset by Henri Rousseau (1910)

Support in response to the Paris terrorist attacks:

Google has made international calls via Hangouts free to France. Project Fi calls to France are also free. (limited time)Facebook Safety Check lets you tell your friends and family you are safeTelstra offers free calls to France  through November 21st

How to set up your Hangout on Air in YouTube Live Events

13-Sept-2016: It is no longer possible to set up a Hangout on Air on Google+.  You can still create a regular Google+ Event in the Classic Google+ interface and add your live stream video.



15-Aug-2016: It was announced that Hangouts on Air will be moving from Google+ to YouTube on September 12, 2016. After that date all Hangouts on Air will have to be run from YouTube Live Events. Learn more in the YouTube Help Center.

17-Nov-2015: The new Google+ web interface does not include Events or Hangouts. That means to set up a Hangout on Air in Google+ you either need to switch back to "classic G+" or, if you are hosting the HOA as a Google+ Profile,  start at hangouts.google.com and select "Hangouts on Air" in the left menu. Hangouts on Air set up in YouTube Live Events are not affected.

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A Hangout on Air is an easy way to broadcast a live discussion or performance that can be watched on YouTube or Google+ by anyone around the world.  You don't need any special equ…

Week in Review - November 7, 2015: YouTube VR, new GMB forum,

What’s new this week? The YouTube Android app now supports Virtual Reality video, Google My Business moved to a new help forum, and Inbox by Email will write responses to your emails. Plus the Plus for Google+ extension adds back Google+ Photos to the Google+ menu, AdSense launches a new site, and there are tips for Hangouts, Blogger and more!

Week in Review - October 31, 2015: Treats, not tricks!

Tasty treats in this Halloween edition of the Weekly Update! YouTube launched the YouTube Red subscription service in the United States, with benefits for both subscribers (ad free, offline videos, much music) and creators (potentially higher earnings). Google Photos expanded face grouping (and hiding!) to more countries, and Snapseed can now edit RAW format files. And Google+ announced their November #FeatureFriday themes, so get your Google+ Collections ready!

Photo: Spooky Halloween Androids, by me, all rights reserved.

How to embed video uploaded to Google Photos on your website or blog

Google Photos lets you easily back up your photos and videos, and share them to Google+, Facebook, Twitter or to anyone who has the link. But sometimes you want to post your videos on your blog or website.

You can import your Google Photos videos to the YouTube channel associated with your account, then embed the YouTube video.  But before you do that first consider YouTube's content policies - if your video doesn't comply, don't import it!

So how can you embed your Google Photos video on your own website without uploading it to YouTube? Google does not offer a direct way to do that, but you can access your Google Photos video in Google Drive and embed it from there.

Note: this only works to embed your own Google Photos videos or videos shared with you via Google Drive

How to embed a Google Photos video on your blog or websiteUpload or backup your video to Google Photos (see video upload limitations)
 OR upload your videos to Google DriveSign in to Google Drive (drive.google.…

Week in Review - October 24: Golden Gate Edition

This week Google Top Contributors converged on San Francisco for the biennial Top Contributor Summit. It was a time to learn about Google products and projects, talk to Googlers, renew friendships, and have a good time. Check out the photos and videos posted by Google Top Contributor Program Page and with the #tcsummit hashtag on Google+ and Twitter.

What else happened this week? YouTube announced the YouTube Red subscription service, Google Photos celebrated 100 million active users, the Nexus 5x shipped and more.

Photo: Sunset over San Francisco from Alameda by me, all rights reserved (ask me if you want to use it)

Week in Review - October 17, 2015: YouTube Gaming, Mobile Live Streaming, Page creation

This week YouTube Gaming had a big update, introducing live streaming (and screen recording) from Android devices, creator sponsorship and more. YouTube also launched local versions (including the Partner Program) in seven countries. Hangouts 5 for Android rolled out, bringing animated GIFs and the ability to compose group MMS for Google Voice and Project Fi users. Plus there are tutorials for creating a Google+ Local or Brand Page in the new Google My Business dashboard, tips for new Nexus owners and more!

Use the YouTube Gaming app to record demos and tutorials on your Android device

The latest version of the Android YouTube Gaming app offers Mobile Capture, which lets you either record or live stream what you see on your screen.  It's designed for gamers, but the recording option is a simple way to create a tutorial or demo in almost any Android app.

What's required: An Android device running Lollipop or higher, the YouTube Gaming app, the YouTube app and a YouTube channel

How to record a demo or tutorial with the YouTube Gaming app (details below)

Install the YouTube Gaming app andYouTube app on your Android deviceSign in as the channel you want to use to record and upload your videoOpen the YouTube Gaming app, tap your channel icon at top right, and select"Go Live"Select the option to Record videoSelect the app you want to recordPosition your cam image or avatar (if the camera is disabled)Start the recording - everything on screen will be recorded so be careful!End the recording, and you will be prompted to upload the video to YouTubeTitle the …

How to create a Google+ Brand Page from Google My Business, Google+, YouTube or a mobile device

Google+ Brand Pages represent brands, organizations, bands, YouTube channels, online-only businesses, and even people who want to be able to manage their identity from multiple accounts. The recent update of the Google My Business dashboard has changed the Google+ Brand Page creation process.

You can create a new Google+ Brand Page starting from several places on Google:

1. Start from Google My Business (business.google.com/manage/)
2. Start from Google+ (click the "Pages" option in the left menu plus.google.com/dashboard)
3. Start from your YouTube All my channels page to create a channel and Page together  (www.youtube.com/channel_switcher)
4. On mobile devices, use the Google My Business app

Or, you can jump right to business.google.com/create/brand

I've outlined the process below - if you would like more detailed instructions, read on!

How to create a Google+ Brand Page at Google My Business
(detailed instructions)
Sign in at business.google.comMake sure you are viewin…

Week in Review - October 10, 2015: Marshmallow, Activities Logged, New TLDs

This week Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) became available for Nexus devices, the Google+ Activity Log page was updated (much more useful!), Google Domains started offering new top level domains and email, applying for AdSense got easier, YouTube videos are offered higher quality thumbnails, and more.

Photo: Marshmallows by John Morgan on Flickr shared under a CC-BY-2.0 license

Week in Review - October 3, 2015: New Nexii, Google Photos features, GMB Pages dashboard

This week Google announced new hardware, updated services and sites, and fabulous features! This week Google held a press event to announce new Nexus phones, a convertible tablet, new Chromecast, and some sweet updates to Google Photos (including chromecast support and (future) shared albums).

The new Nexii will work on Google's Project Fi network. You can get your questions about Project Fi answered in the new official Project Fi Help Forum!

This week was also PubCon in Las Vegas. AdWords announced new ad types on YouTube, Gmail and search, and AdSense launched the Certified Partner Program.

Plus HTTPS is now available for Blogger blogs, there is a new Google My Business dashboard for Local and Brand Pages, you can post to the top of Google+ Collections, Google Profile blue heads are going away and more!

Watch the full September Google Press Event (Google on YouTube) 
Image: from the NASA Project Apollo photo archive on Flickr

The new Google My Business dashboard for Brand Pages

Google is rolling out an improved "Google My Business" dashboard for Local Pages and Brand Pages. The new dashboard is at Google My Business (business.google.com) instead of Google+ (plus.google.com/dashboard) and places management tools at your fingertips.

Brand Pages are used to represent YouTube channels, bands, organizations and brands on Google+ - any other identity that isn't a local business (where you see customers or clients face-to-face) or your personal profile. Since that's what I use, and I'm not a Local Business expert, my post focuses specifically on Brand Page Management.

Old Google+ Pages dashboard: plus.google.com/dashboard
New Google My Business dashboard for Brand pages: business.google.com/manage/#/pages

The new Google My Business dashboard for Brand Pages
The Google My Business dashboard has a new Material Design-based interface, and two tabs at the top, one for Locations and the other for Brand Pages

When you are on the Brand Pages tab you…

Week in Review - September 26, 2015: First Week of Fall

This week Hangouts made it easier to invite people into a video call or Hangout on Air, Gmail introduced email address blocking and Google voice search got better. Plus tips and tutorials for Google+ collectors, YouTube creators, bloggers, webmasters and AdSense publishers.

Image: Philippe Robert: Farbtafel aus Feuilles d'automne. Neuchatel, Delachaux et Niestle (1909)

Week in review - September 19, 2015: AdSense app, YouTube in Hindi, Photos for Pages and more

This week has some smaller updates: Google Photos (finally) supports Google+ Brand Pages on desktop, the AdSense Android app gets a material design update, YouTube opens a Hindi help forum, and Google Slides makes it easier to present to Hangouts from your mobile device. Google has made it easier to report robo-callers pretending to be Google. Plus there are more tips and updates for YouTube, Google+, Google Photos, Hangouts, webmasters, and more.

Image: Hyacinths from The Temple of Flora (1797-1810) by Dr. Robert John Thornton (public domain)

Week in Review - September 12, 2015: Google+ & YouTube Tips for Small Businesses, Live Broadcasting updates and more!

This week there are YouTube and Google+ tips for small businesses, improvements to YouTube Live, updates to YouTube Kids, introduction of Android Pay and the new Google Wallet, and the roll out of the first monthly Android security update. There are also tips for Google+, YouTube, Blogger and more!

This week I polled my followers about what they read this summer. The results? Folks split pretty evenly between Science Fiction/Fantasy and Romance. This week's image is for everyone: two robots - puppy Android and kitten Android - in love. Only in sci-fi romance!

Week in Review - September 5, 2015 - Gee Whiz edition

This week Google updated their logo for the first time in 16 years, using a much cleaner, simpler font.  The Google+ iOS app was (finally!) updated to support Collections, the new Street Views mobile app lets you shoot, view and share photo spheres, Blogger introduced 28 new country-specific blogspot domains and Google Docs, Sheets and Slides got some spiffy new features.

All that, plus tips and updates for YouTube, Google+, AdSense, Chrome and more.

Week in review - August 29, 2015: YouTube Gaming FTW!

This week YouTube Gaming launched, making it easier to find your favorite gaming content and be notified of new live streams (and Hangouts on Air)!  There are also tips for Google+, Google Photos, AdSense and more.

Image: my YouTube Gaming channel (with no gaming content). You can find it at gaming.google.com/PeggyKTC

YouTube Gaming live stream notifications: not just for gaming videos!

One of the cool features of the new YouTube Gaming is that it will notify you on your mobile device when a new live stream from one of the channels you follow starts. That means that when your favorite Call of Duty player starts their stream, you can watch - and live chat - from the beginning.

And those live streaming notifications work even for non-gaming channels!

1. Find the channel on YouTube Gaming

2. Click the Plus (+) to add the channel to your YouTube Gaming channels

3. In the mobile YouTube Gaming app, enable notifications of new live streams

4. When you see the YouTube Gaming heart notification on your mobile device, watch the live stream!

More details below.

Week in Review - August 22, 2015: Google Photos, Hangouts, Google+ Collections

This week we have new Google Photos features, a home page for Hangouts, Google+ Collections search and Google support on Twitter. 

We also learned "M" is for Marshmallow, YouTube Audio Library has 1000 new tunes, Maps "Views" was retired, and there are updates and tips for Blogger, Google Photos, Google Docs and Sheets.

Image: Elegant Ladies at the Racesby Oscar Blum (1867-1912). The lady on the right would have loved Google Photos!

Week in Review - August 15, 2015: Alphabet City

Alphabet, Hangouts and more: This week Larry Page announced Alphabet, a new parent company, with Google as a subsidiary headed by new CEO Sundar Pichai. It doesn't appear this will bring any significant changes to the apps and services you know and love, at least for the near future.

Also version 4 of the Android Hangouts app was (finally) released, with group MMS updates and Outbound Caller ID. And there are more updates and tips. Read on!

Week in Review - August 8, 2015: YouTube Player, Plus for G+, Android Security Updates

This week YouTube launched their new video player, stopped freezing views at 301+, and stopped displaying comment updates under the Bell icon.  Olivier Jobert shared the unofficial "Plus for Google+" Chrome extension  that brings back a few retired Google+ features.  Google, Samsung, LG and Motorola announced regular security updates for their Android devices (goodbye Stagefright security bug).
There were also big changes in Local search results, AdSense introduces a new richer text ad, and you can now share from the Android Slides app to a Hangouts video call.  There are also tips and tricks for Google+, YouTube, Maps, Blogger and more.

Dive in!
Image: Clarice Beckett - Beach Scene 1932 (now in the public domain)

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