Thursday, December 31, 2015

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 Businesses and YouTube from Google+. The year is ending with a brand new Google+ user interface, still under development.
While Local Businesses are still represented by Google+ Local Pages, there has been an ongoing separation from Google+. In October the new Google My Business dashboard (business.google.com/manage/) replaced the Google+ Pages dashboard. The new Google+ profiles no longer display local business reviews - those have moved to Google Maps.
In May Google Photos launched as a stand-alone service that doesn't require a Google+ profile. Since then there have been a number of improvements and updates, such as shared albums. The old Picasa Web Albums is not only still around, but is currently the only place to access albums created by other Google products such as Google+ Photos from Posts, Blogger blogs, and Hangouts.
YouTube launched several new ways to watch:  YouTube Kids, YouTube Gaming (with an emphasis on live broadcasting), YouTube Music and the ad-free YouTube Red subscription service. And more sorts of videos are now supported: high frame rate videos, 360-degree videos, and VR video. And watching video on mobile got better, with a redesigned YouTube mobile app. Some of the improvements were smaller, but very welcome, like the return of subscription grid view on desktop.
For YouTube Creators and Partners the big news was the separation of YouTube from Google+, starting with comments, then Google+ Profile-connected channels. That process is ongoing.

YouTube Analytics got new tools for analyzing views and engagement, and mobile-friendly Cards were introduced to eventually replace Annotations. YouTube Spaces for creators opened in Berlin and Mumbai. Plus new video options form 360 videos to improved live streaming, and potentially higher earnings form YouTube Red subscribers.
2015 was also the year Live Streaming came to the masses. Mobile streaming apps Periscope and Meerkat launched, YouTube offered easy broadcasting for gamers from both the desktop and mobile devices, Twitch.tv expanded beyond gaming, Blab let you stream your conversations and even Facebook has gotten into the act. Alas, Hangouts on Air didn't get any major updates.
Hangouts got a home of its own at hangouts.google.com but was removed from the new Google+ desktop interface. The Chrome Hangouts app for desktop got a major update with Mac support. And non-event video calls were streamlined, with the removal of most apps. The mobile Hangouts app for Android and iOS got a number of updates and improvements, including - finally! - group MMS.
Blogger added easy integration with Google Domains, banned - for a short time - nudity and porn, introduced new layout and template options and HTTPS security.
AdSense made it easier to apply for an account, introduced new ways to earn (Consumer Surveys and Matched Content), redesigned Performance Reports and offers more transparency about Payments. And you can #AskTheAdSenseGuy policy questions!
Want to stay up to date all year long? Follow my Weekly Updates!

Weekly Updates

Read on for details and links!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

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

Saturday, December 12, 2015

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...
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.,

Saturday, December 5, 2015

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)