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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 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!

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Read on for details and links!


2015 Timeline: Out with the old, in with the new


The list below gives an overview of some of the major events in the Google universe in 2015 for both creators and consumers of content.


2015 Review: Google+ 


Google+ is neither dead, nor dying. But it's also no longer the "social layer" across Google products. If you were watching closely you may have seen this change coming.

In an interview in Forbes in February, Google's senior vice president of products Sundar Pichai noted that Google+ has been successful providing a common identity across products. But he added:
“I think increasingly you’ll see us focus on communications, photos and the Google+ Stream as three important areas, rather than being thought of as one area,” 
By mid-2015 Google+ was no longer mandatory for many Google services. Hangouts didn't required a Google+ profile for chats or video calls. With the Google Photos launch in May, photo auto-backup and management was also independent of Google+. And Google notifications under the bell icon separated Google+ notifications from YouTube and Photos notifications.

Google+ also became more streamlined, losing  Ripples, Circle sharing and automatic hashtags.

Meanwhile there was a new emphasis on the Google+ Stream. Collections launched as a new way to organize shared and curate posts and photos, and for people to find and follow the content the are interested in.

As Bradley Horowitz - Google's Vice President for Photos and Streams - explained in an interview in May :
Three and a half years into this journey, we’re looking at what the users are telling us Google Plus is good for, and doubling down on those uses. For instance, one particular use-case on Google Plus is people aligning around common interests. If I’m interested in astronomy and I want to meet other people interested in astronomy, we think we have a good solution — Collections, a new feature that we launched just two weeks ago. It’s the first in a series of pivots. We’re also moving aside the things that either belong as independent products, like photos, or eliminating things that we think aren’t working.
In July the meaning of "eliminating things that aren't working" became clear: Google+ would no longer provide an identity across Google products (especially YouTube). Instead, Google+ would become more focused on "shared interests" and content. Bradley Horowitz explained how was a good thing:
What does this mean for Google+ the product? Relieved of the notion of integrating with every other product at Google, Google+ can now focus on doing what it’s already doing quite well: helping millions of users around the world connect around the interest they love. Aspects of the product that don’t serve this agenda have been, or will be, retired. But you’ll also see a slew of improvements that make this use case shine (like the recent launch of Collections -plus.google.com/collections/featured).
There is even an official Google+ Collections Community meant to help users build featurable Collections.

And in November Google+ launched an entirely new web interface that "puts Collections and Communities front and center". It's still a preview, and Google+ is gathering user feedback, but it's clear it's much simpler than "classic" Google+.

Will the new Google+ be a success? Only time will tell.

My 2015 Google+ Tips and Articles

Also recommended:  Miss the link to Google Photos and Google+ Photos in the Google+ Menu? The Plus for Google+ Chrome extension adds back those links, and more (by Olivier Jobert)


Google+ 2015 Timeline
  • February: Forbes interviews Sundar Pichai: Future direction for Google+, Photos and Hangouts
  • February: New and improved Google+ experience for mobile web (Danielle Buckley) 
  • April: Your Google+ Photos are now available in Google Drive
  • April: Google+ Communities get a new look on Android devices (Danielle Buckley) 
  • May: Google+ introduces Collections (Dmitry Shapiro) 
  • May: Google streamlines business reviews, focuses on Google Maps, removes Local search from Google+ (Google Local Guides) 
  • May: Google+ is now on Twitter
  • May: Google+ retires Ripples (Google+) 
  • May: Google+ retires Circle sharing (CircleCount) 
  • May: Autohashtags Are 'Disappearing' But Not 'Retiring' (Eli Fennell) 
  • May: The new Google Photos launches for Android, iOS and Desktop (Google Blog) 
  • May: Bradley Horowitz Says That Google Photos is Gmail for Your Images. And That Google Plus Is Not Dead…
  • June: The share-to-Google+ box has been removed from the top toolbar across Google products
  • June: Control which notifications you see under the bell icon - Google+, YouTube, or Google Photos
  • June: Learn more about creating and managing Collections in the new official Google+ Collections community
  • July: Google+ announces a change in focus (Google) 
  • July: What the changes mean for Google+ (Bradley Horowitz) 
  • July: Google+ Collections update: number of posts displayed (Google+) 
  • August: Google+ Photos to be retired starting August 1st (Google+) 
  • August: Google+ introduces search for Collections (Peter Zheng) 
  • September: The Google+ Logo gets a new look too
  • September: Introducing Google+ Collections on iOS (John Kilcline) 
  • September: Google+ Android App: new "Share link" option for posts (Robert Wallis) 
  • September: The first official Google+ Collections #FeatureFriday contest - join the official G+ Creators and Curators Community to find out what next week's theme is 
  • September: Branded search results no longer show links to a business's URL or Google+ Page (Jenny F) 
  • September: Google+ Links (to Local Pages) & Reviews Stripped from the Branded SERPs Now Too (Linda Buquet) 
  • October: Pin a post to the top of a Google+ Collection in the Google+ Android App (John Elstone) 
  • October: The new Google My Business Dashboard for Brand and Local Pages (Google+ discussion of my post here
  • October: View Insights about your Google+ Page anywhere with the updated Google My Business app (Google Business) 
  • October: Google profile "blue heads" going away? The Google Bar will start showing an initial instead of a blue head for users with Google+ starting this week. It will be reflected across Google Products in the coming months (Google Apps updates - the answer is "no", there are still blue heads) 
  • October: Find your Google+ posts, comments, votes & +1s in the updated Google+ Activity Log (Jaana Nystom) 
  • November Introducing the new Google+ (Official Google Blog) 
  • November Dive into the new Google+ (Official post on Google+ by Luke Wroblewski) 
  • November Behind The +1: Meet The New Google+ (TechCrunch) 
  • November New G+ iOS app launched and updated
  • November New design in the Android app
  • November Google+ Photos are no longer accessible 
  • November: Improvements to Sign-In with Google Play services 8.3: Sign in with Google+ becomes Sign in with Google (no Profile required) (Android Developers blog) 
  • November Updates to the new Google+ on desktop: 3 column view, reply to comments in context, unlimited number of Circle streams (LukeWroblewski) 
  • November : Google+ more popular than you think, especially in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East & Africa (globalwebindex.net) 
  • November Create a YouTube channel unconnected to Google+ (G+ discussion of my post here)
  • December Google+ update: Pin a post to the top of a Collection in the new Google+
  • December Fixes and improvements in the updated iOS Google+ app (LukeWroblewski) 
  • December Google+ web preview update: Animated GIFs, pin posts in Collections, clearer indication of notifications, visible Community categories and more! (Luke Wroblewski)
  • December Google+ Android app update: bug fixes, full screen notifications, and more(Luke Wroblewski)
  • December Google+ iOS update with improved comments, Circle streams, notifications, follower count and more. Keep sending feedback! (Luke Wroblewski)
  • December Google+ Web Preview update: single click to +1, date stamps, more post reporting options (Luke Wroblewski)
Jump to the detailed overview for Google+PhotosLocal Businesses and PagesYouTube for viewersYouTube Creators and Partnerslive streamingHangoutsBloggerAdSense.

2015 Review: Google for Local Businesses and Brand Pages


Google+ is no longer the place for customers and clients to find and review businesses. Google+ local search was retired, and the options for finding and reviewing local businesses have moved to Google Maps and Google Search.

The changes don't only affect Local Pages. The new Google My Business dashboard (business.google.com/manage/) replaced the Google+ Pages dashboard (plus.google.com/dashboard) for both Brand Pages and Local Pages. If you have a number of Pages that means having to switch between GMB and Google+.

The new Google+ hasn't been fully implemented for Pages yet, but the focus has clearly changed. Currently the new profiles don't display links or a description, and Local Pages don't have a Reviews tab. That may change, but it's clear the focus will be content posted on Google+.

Will businesses require a Local Google+ Page in the future? Google hasn't said, but I wouldn't be surprised if they don't.


Google My Business/Google Pages 2015 Timeline 

(note that I don't closely follow Google Local updates that don't relate to Google+, so this list is incomplete!)
  • January: Google City Experts becomes Google Local Guides
  • February New photo tools to show off your business on Google (Google and Your Business) 
  • March: See a business on Google Maps that is closed, at the wrong address or doesn't actually exist? Now it's easier to report (Colan Nielsen @ Imprezzio Marketing) 
  • March: Local business owner? Get your business on the map! (Google+ Your Business) 
  • April: The newly updated Google My Business mobile app makes it easier to manage Google+ Pages on the go (Google+ Your Business) 
  • May: Google streamlines business reviews, focuses on Google Maps, removes Local search from Google+ (Google Local Guides) 
  • May: Google+ Knowledge Panel Messaging Gone from Google Search (Mike Blumenthal) 
  • May: Links to Google+ Local business Pages removed from Google Maps and Google Search Knowledge Panel (Mike Blumenthal​ ) 
  • July: Google Maps alerts users if a business will be closed by the time they arrive (Google Maps) 
  • July: Google will remove unverified Local Business pages beginning July 28 (Mike Blumenthal) 
  • August: Google tells you when businesses are busy (or not) (Google) 
  • August: The Google Maps app now shows you when businesses are busiest (Google Maps) 
  • September: No more manual verification of businesses via Google's Local support team(Priya Chandra) 
  • September: Google makes the desktop local results more like the mobile results - popular times now display (Phil Rozek) 
  • September: The Google Business View program has been rebranded Street View | Trusted(Mick Kenyon) 
  • September: Branded search results no longer show links to a business's URL or Google+ Page (Jenny F) 
  • September: Google+ Links (to Local Pages) & Reviews Stripped from the Branded SERPs Now Too (Linda Buquet) 
  • October: The new Google My Business Dashboard for Brand and Local Pages (Google+ discussion of my post here
  • October: View Insights about your Google+ Page anywhere with the updated Google My Business app (Google Business) 
  • November Small business owners: Get help with your Local Business, AdWords ads and website Analytics in the new Google Advertiser Community. (Yes, even if your question isn't about advertising)
  • November Holiday hours has come to Google search and maps! If you have a business, make sure your holiday hours are up to date! (Google Maps, Priya Chandra) 
  • November Google Maps can now give you turn-by-turn directions and Local business information without an internet connection (Google Maps) 
  • November Are you an expert in your local area? Join the Google Local Guides community and earn points and badges by sharing reviews, photos, or improving Google Maps(Google Local Guides) 
  • November Get holiday shopping deals and offers texted to your phone - if you have a small business set up your ads! (US only) (AdWords) 
  • November Small businesses: give your customers the direct link to your Google Business page reviews (Online Ownership) Also: Automated review link creation tool (Pleper) 
  • November Review local businesses, upload photos, correct Google Maps - Google Local Guides can level up to get more storage! (Google Local Guides) 
  • November Get your photos on the map! Now you can share photos directly from Google Photos to Google Maps (Google Local Guides) 
  • November How to restore a deleted Google+ Page (and its YouTube channel) at Google My Business (G+ share of this post
  • November Free Tools for Generating Google Review Links now that G+ Reviews are Gone (Local Search Forum) 
  • November Business owners: add and manage photos for your Google local business listing in Google My Business (Google Small Business) 

2015 Review: Google Photos and Picasa Web Albums

Google+ Photos have been retired, and photos can now be found in three places: Google Photos (autobackups and most albums), Picasa Web Albums (autobackups and all albums) and Google Drive (all photos, but no albums).

Photos began the move out of Google+ in March, when Google Photos became available in Google Drive.

Google Photos was introduced at Google i/o at the end of May with it's own site (photos.google.com) and no Google+ Profile required. Since then Google Photos has has been updated to support Google+ Pages and added new features like collaborative photo albums.

Picasa Web Albums hasn't been updated, but it remains the place to find your albums created by Google services: your Google+ Photos from Posts album, Blogger blog albums, and Hangouts albums.

My hope is that this will be simplified in 2016, with all our photos available in one place.

Google also released several new photo-related mobile apps: Google released a brand new version of the Snapseed mobile photo editing app, Google Maps Views was replaced by a new "Street View" app (with photo sphere creation and management), and a Google Cardboard Camera app to take 360-degree images.

My 2015 Photos Articles and Tips

Googe Photos 2015 Updates
  • March: Your Google+ Photos are now available in Google Drive (Google Drive) 
  • April: Get the new updated Snapseed photo editing app! (Nils Kokemohr) 
  • May: The new Google Photos launches for Android, iOS and Desktop (Google Blog) 
  • May: Google Photos is now on Twitter
  • June: Your photos on Google Maps: Views will be retired, you will be able to manage your photos through Google Maps and a new Street View app will be launched (Google Maps) 
  • July: Google+ Photos Chrome app will stop working July 21 (Jaana Nyström ) 
  • July: Google Photos Android app update: photo descriptions, better album management options, select all photos on a day with a single tap (Google Photos) 
  • July: The new Google Maps Timeline not only lets you rediscover your travel routes - it also helps you rediscover your photos from that day! 
  • July: Your Timeline: Revisit the places you've explored (Google Maps) 
  • August: Google+ Photos to be retired starting August 1st (Google+)
  • August: Official Google Photos help forum launches 
  • August: Google Photos for Android now supports Google+ business Pages, offers more Movie editing options, lets you reorder content in albums and more! (Google Photos) 
  • August: Google Photos new feature: rediscover photos from the past (Google Photos) 
  • August: Google Photos for iOS update: change the cover photo, save animations as videos, rediscover this day and more (Google Photos) 
  • August: Google Maps Views is retired - find your photos in Google Maps "Contributions" (Google Maps) 
  • September: The new Street View app lets you take photo spheres and share them to Google Maps, and explore Street Views and others' shared images (Google Maps blog) 
  • September: Google Photos for iOS update (Google Photos) 
  • September: Google Photos now supports Google+ Brand Pages on desktop (Robert Wallis) 
  • September: Better photo editing on the go: Snapseed introduces a new "Healing" tool, more languages and other improvements (Niels Bendig) 
  • October: People Labeling, Chromecast support and (eventually) shared albums (Google Photos) 
  • October: Google Photos for Android: Chromecast support, label and merge people groupings, share animations directly to WhatsApp and more!
  • October: Google Photos for iOS: face labeling, share animated GIFs to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, but no Chromecast support yet
  • October Paris, food, dogs and babies - that's what Google Photos is made of! Learn 11 things about Google Photos and its 100 million active users. (Official Google Blog) 
  • October Google Photos for Android update: face grouping in more countries, people hiding, pinch to zoom search results, performance improvements and bug fixes (Google Photos) 
  • November Better mobile video editing coming to Google Photos? Google acquires iOS video editing app maker Fly Labs (Fly Labs and The Verge) 
  • November Google Photos helps you free up space on your phone - now you can easily delete device copies of your already-backed-up photos or get a warning when your storage is almost full (Google Photos) 
  • November Google Photos helps you clear up space in your Google account: convert your photos from Original to High Quality (Google Photos) 
  • November Get your photos on the map! Now you can share photos directly from Google Photos to Google Maps (Google Local Guides)
  • December New in Google Photos! View and explore photo spheres on your desktop computer (Google Photos)
  • December Take VR photos with the new Cardboard Camera app for Android (Google Blog)
  • December Shared memories made easy with Google Photos (Google Blog)
  • December Google Photos update for iOS: shared albums, Chromecast support, free up space, improved backups (Google Photos)
  • December Snapseed 2.2 rolling out for Android and iOS with improvements and bug fixes(Snapseed)

2015 Review: YouTube Video Technology and Viewer Options


The first YouTube video was uploaded in May 2005. Over the last 10 years YouTube has continued to improve it's video technology. Flash is on its way out, replaced by HTML5. And in the past year YouTube introduced 360-degree and VR videos, an experimental feature that lets viewers switch cameras during a broadcast, and  high frame rate videos.

YouTube has also launched several new ways to watch for specific audiences:  YouTube KidsYouTube Gaming (with an emphasis on live broadcasting), YouTube Music, plus the ad-free YouTube Red subscription service.

YouTube also made it easier to view your subscriptions, with a redesigned YouTube mobile app and the return of subscription grid view on desktop.

What did we lose? Subscription Collections were retired (RIP) and the YouTube app is no longer supported on older smart TVs, iOS devices and game consoles.

What will come next? I'm hoping for better ways to find interesting videos, both from my subscriptions and as recommended videos.

YouTube 2015 updates for viewers 
  • January: YouTube now defaults to HTML 5 <video> (YouTube Engineering and Developers Blog) 
  • February: YouTube Interactive Experience: watch videos from different angles
  • February: YouTube Kids app is launched
  • March: Watch the world go round: watch and upload 360 degree videos on YouTube (see the playlist at the end of the post) 
  • April: YouTube retires Data API v. 2 - after April 2015 the YouTube app will no longer be supported on older iOS devices, smart TVs and game consoles
  • May: Ten years of YouTube video tech in 10 videos (YouTube Engineering and Developers Blog) 
  • May: YouTube Subscription Collections retired
  • May: 60fps live streaming on YouTube in HTML5
  • May: Capture the world in 360 degrees: immersive YouTube 360-degree videos are available on Android or iOS devices, and viewable with Google Cardboard
  • June: See the future of YouTube - try the redesigned video player
  • June: YouTube announces YouTube Gaming with a redesigned live streaming system to be launched "in coming weeks"
  • June: High Frame Rate video available in the Android and iOS YouTube app
  • July: updated Android app with new focus on subscriptions
  • July: new subscription notifications 
  • July: YouTube announces it will separate from Google+, beginning with YouTube comments 
  • August The new YouTube video player launches ! (YouTube Creators) 
  • August: YouTube Gaming launches
  • August: YouTube Gaming is live and live is better! (YouTube) 
  • September: : YouTube Kids update: Chromecast support, set a custom pass code for parental controls
  • October: YouTube Red: subscribe for ad free videos, save videos offline and more (YouTube) 
  • November: YouTube now supports Virtual Reality video - a step beyond ‎360° Video - and you can use Google Cardboard to view any video (even your own!) on your Android phone(YouTube) 
  • November:  The YouTube Music app is designed for music lovers - including a free 14 day trial of YouTube Red, no credit card required (US only) 
  • November: YouTube listens: Subscription grid view is back! (YouTube) 
  • November YouTube Kids app now available in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada (YouTube) 
  • November: Project Butter: smoother YouTube video playback in Chrome
  • December: YouTube Gaming update: easier setup for new users, improved search, explore and navigation, improved mobile capture and more! (r/youtubegaming)
  • December: Meet the YouTube Trending tab (YouTube Trends blog)
  • December: Google Play Music - and YouTube Red - family plan!

2015 Review: Updates for YouTube Creators


In spring 2012 YouTube began offering new users the option to create a channel connected to Google+. That was the beginning of the long process of integrating YouTube with Google+. In July, after several years of annoyance and confusion, Google announced the separation of YouTube from Google+.

Bradley Horowitz acknowledged that the process had not gone well:
Four years ago when we conceived of the “Google+ Project”, we made it clear that our goals were always two-fold: Google+ aspired to be both a “platform layer that unified Google’s sharing models”, and a product / stream / app in its own right. 
This was a well-intentioned goal, but as realized it led to some product experiences that users sometimes found confusing. For instance, and perhaps most controversially, integration with YouTube implied that leaving a comment on YouTube (something users had obviously been doing successfully for years) suddenly and unexpectedly required “joining Google+.”
The first change was to YouTube comments, which has gotten a mixed response - it turns out some users liked sharing their comments to Google+, especially as that allowed collecting your own comments in one place.

Since then the dis-integration process has been slow but steady, and it's now possible to have a full-featured channel that is not connected to Google+.  But the process is not complete - Google+ Pages are still needed for channels with a business or other name. And custom URLs, notifications under the bell and  other features are still dependent on Google+.

It's been a slow process, but 2016 should see YouTube channels free of Google+, hopefully with some improvements in comment, PM and channel management.

Beyond that, YouTube Analytics got new tools for analyzing views (realtime data!), engagement, and earnings. Mobile-friendly Cards were introduced as an eventual replacement for mobile-unfriendly annotations. Plus Creator Credits to acknowledge collaborations and translation tools to widen your audience.

And all the new video options for viewers are opportunities for creators, including 360-degree videos, high frame rate videos, and improved live streaming for both gamers and other broadcasters.

Even the new YouTube Red could be a boon, with potentially higher earnings form YouTube Red subscribers.

YouTube has also been working to help Creators around the world. YouTube Spaces for creators opened in Berlin and Mumbai and will be coming soon to Rio. An launched local versions for Adriatics, Baltics, Bulgaria, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Belarus, meaning Creators from those countries can now join the YouTube Partner Program.

And even if you aren't able to visit a YouTube Space in person, you can get help improving your videos and channel with totally free Creator Academy lessons, available in 20 languages.

And in the US YouTube is giving legal support to selected Creators to fight for fair use.

Hopefully there will be more to come in 2016.

See also: 2015 YouTube Analytics Updates (Ted Hamilton)

My 2015 YouTube articles and tips

YouTube 2015 updates for Creators 
  • February: YouTube Creator Studio iOS app update: moderate comments!
  • February: YouTube Creators: credit your collaborator (Creator Credits available to channels with at least 5000 subs)
  • February: Want to keep your Branding Intros? Check your settings before March 31
  • February YouTube Partners: YouTube Analytics will now display estimated earnings in any currency (plus new YTA settings)
  • February: YouTube Partners: clarification of the product placement and sponsored content policies (no logos!)
  • February: Shorthand vanity URLs for YouTube channels: now based on new-style custom URLs
  • February: Android YouTube app update: precisely trim your videos and check out the new inline video preview
  • February iOS YouTube app update: see what you are typing
  • March: Beyond annotations: YouTube introduces Cards
  • April: YouTube Partner Update: new terms cover paid subscriptions for an ad-free experience
  • April: YouTube Analytics update: now segment data by subscribers vs non-subscribers
  • April: YouTube Space Berlin opens in partnership with MET film school
  • June: YouTube announces YouTube Gaming with a redesigned live streaming system to be launched "in coming weeks"
  • June: 10 Things Coming Soon for Creators
  • July: YouTube launches Channel Cards: thank a channel for their contribution to your video or for a general recommendation
  • July: YouTube updates the Live streaming interface (beta)
  • August: Goodbye videos frozen at 301 views! (YouTube Creators) 
  • August The new YouTube video player launches ! (YouTube Creators) 
  • August: YouTube Gaming launches
  • August: YouTube Gaming is live and live is better! (YouTube)
  • September : Something for your wish list? Google's 360-degree video system that can use GoPro cameras (John Blossom
  • September: Use YouTube Live "Stream Now" to archive up to 12 hours (vs 8 hours for "Events") (Craig Long)
  • September: : It's easier to upload in the Android YouTube app with the home screen upload icon (YouTube Creators)
  • September: YouTube Space Rio De Janeiro announced 
  • September: official Hindi YouTube Help Forum launches
  • October: Shopping card ads, app promotion ads, and more updates to advertising on YouTube videos (AdWords)
  • October: AdWords advertisers can now target ads on YouTube, Search and Gmail by email address (AdWords blog)
  • October: the updated iOS Creator Studio app gives you more Analytics info for your channel and videos (YouTube Creators)
  • October: Live stream game play from your Playstation 4 directly to YouTube(Playstation blog)
  • October: YouTube launches local versions for Adriatics, Baltics, Bulgaria, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Belarus - Creators can now join the YouTube Partner Program from these countries and regions (YouTube)
  • October: YouTube Gaming just got better: Creator sponsorship, mobile live streams, easier live stream discovery and bookmarking and more! (YouTube)
  • October:  Live Stream your screen with the Android YouTube Gaming app (YouTube)
  • October: Gamers: you can now record game play on your phone or tablet from the Google Play Games app (Official Android Blog)
  • October: YouTube custom URL eligibility update: now your channel only needs 100 subscribers
  • October: US Podcasters: Google Play Music wants you! If you host a Hangout on Air or YouTube vlog, consider turning your video show into a monetizable audio-only podcast.
  • October: Google uses deep neural networks to help select higher quality thumbnails for YouTube videos (Google Research Blog)
  • October: Enhance those videos you took on Halloween with spooky filters and music in the YouTube app
  • November: YouTube Partners: YouTube Red estimated earnings are now available in YouTube Analytics (Ted Hamilton)
  • November: YouTube now supports Virtual Reality video - a step beyond ‎360° Video - and you can use Google Cardboard to view any video (even your own!) on your Android phone(YouTube)
  • November: See your estimated video views in real time with the YouTube Analytics Realtime report (YouTube Creators) 
  • November: YouTube Creators: enable the new Sponsored Cards format on your videos
  • November: YouTube's new translation tools help you connect with a global audience(YouTube Creators)
  • November: YouTube fights for fair use (Google Public Policy blog)
  • November: Create a YouTube channel unconnected to Google+ (G+ discussion of my post here)
  • December: YouTube Space Mumbai opened today - if you are a YouTube Creator in the area, sign up for orientation and upcoming events and workshops (YouTube Creator Blog) 
  • December: YouTube Gaming update: easier setup for new users, improved search, explore and navigation, improved mobile capture and more! (r/youtubegaming)
  • December: YouTube for Good: US Creators can support nonprofits with donation cards (YouTube)

2015 Review: Go Live!


2015 was the year that live streaming - particularly mobile live streaming - came to the masses. A number of mobile apps were introduced that allow live streaming with just a few taps - Meerkat, Periscope, Wirecast, InstaLively, even Facebook is getting into the act.

On desktop Twitch.tv expanded beyond gaming and Blab let you stream your conversations. 

So where is Google in all this? The YouTube Gaming app lets you stream game play or app activity from your phone.

YouTube has made a number of improvements to their live streaming system. The new Live Stream Now option (still in beta) makes it easier to stream from the desktop. And the updated YouTube Live Streaming API makes it easier for third parties to create apps and services that help you manage your YouTube streams.

And while there weren't any major updates to Hangouts on Air this year, HOAs should benefit from improvements made to the live streaming system back end too.

My hope is that in 2016 either Google will introduce a mobile live streaming app or a third party (like Telestream) will develop a mobile streaming for Android that is integrated with YouTube.

My 2015 Live Broadcasting Articles

Google Live Broadcasting 2015
  • June: YouTube announces YouTube Gaming with a redesigned live streaming system to be launched "in coming weeks"
  • July: YouTube updates the Live streaming interface (beta)
  • August: YouTube Gaming is live and live is better! (YouTube)
  • September: Use YouTube Live "Stream Now" to archive up to 12 hours (vs 8 hours for "Events") (Craig Long)
  • September: Now it's easier to invite a person or page into your Hangout video call or Hangout on Air
  • October: There’s a new screen when you leave a Hangout on Air or video call that lets you rejoin or send feedback (Michael Daniels) 
  • October: Live stream game play from your Playstation 4 directly to YouTube(Playstation blog)
  • October: YouTube Gaming just got better: Creator sponsorship, mobile live streams, easier live stream discovery and bookmarking and more! (YouTube)
  • October: Live Stream your screen with the Android YouTube Gaming app (YouTube)
  • October: US Podcasters: Google Play Music wants you! If you host a Hangout on Air or YouTube vlog, consider turning your video show into a monetizable audio-only podcast.
  • December: YouTube Gaming update: easier setup for new users, improved search, explore and navigation, improved mobile capture and more! (r/youtubegaming)

2015 Review: Hangouts


Hangouts finally got its own home at hangouts.google.com . It's still accessible from other places on desktop - Gmail, Inbox, Google Contacts, and Classic Google+ - but now you don't have to open a different Google product to start a chat.

You can also use the Chrome Hangouts app - which got a major update with Mac OSX support in May - to put Hangouts on your computer's desktop or the Chrome Hangouts extension to access Hangouts from anywhere on the web (as long as you use the Chrome browser).

What else was new in 2015?
  • Group chats can now include up to 150 people
  • Video calling was streamlined, removing all apps other than screen sharing (the old version is still available from Google Calendar and Google+ Events)
  • Google Apps users can allow guests without a Google account to join a video call
  • Hangouts further separated from Google+, with it's own invite controls and easier invite options for video calls
  • The Hangouts mobile app got a number of updates including group MMS messaging (finally!) and outbound caller ID 
What if you hate Hangouts? While the Windows Google Talk app was retired in February, Google Talk  may still be accessed using 3rd party apps. And Google Chat is still available in Gmail. But Hangouts is currently Google's default messaging service.

There have been more than 1 billion downloads of the Android Hangouts app from the Google Play store. Join us in 2016!

My 2015 Hangouts articles and tips

Hangouts 2015 Updates 
  • January: Hangouts update for iOS (v2.5) (Mark Chang) 
  • January: Hangouts just got bigger: group chats can now have up to 150 people (Johannes Keukelaar) 
  • February: The Google Talk app for Windows was retired February 23 (Mayur Kamat) 
  • March: Hangouts update for Android (v3) (Dennis Kiilerich) 
  • March: OK Google: send a Hangouts message
  • March: Hangouts update for iOS (v3) 
  • April: Google Apps for Work administrators can now control Hangout chat history in their organization
  • April: Unable to use Google Chat in the latest version of Chrome? Try switching to Google Hangouts!
  • May: Hangouts Chrome app update: MacOSX users (and everyone else) try out the new version of the app!
  • May: Add stickers to Hangouts chat on the desktopz
  • June: Full-view screen sharing in Google Hangouts video calls and Hangouts on Air
  • June: 1 Billion Hangouts downloads - and more good stuff coming!
  • June: Hangouts update for iOS (v4) (Sky Ortiz) 
  • July: Hangouts on desktop update: drag and drop images into the conversation (Mayur Kamat) 
  • July Google Messenger update: cute stickers, share your location
  • August: Hangouts update: new invite settings let you better control who can chat with you directly, and who must send you an invite ( Jordanna Chord ) 
  • August: Google Slides for Android now lets you present in a Hangouts video call from your phone or tablet (Google Docs) 
  • August: Version 4 of Hangouts for Android is (finally) released: Google Voice and Project Fi receive and reply to group MMS, Outbound caller ID 
  • August: Hangouts gets a good-looking page of its own at hangouts.google.com (Jordanna Chord) 
  • August: Hangouts updates hangouts.google.com based on user feedback (Jordanna Chord) 
  • September: Presentations on the go: Google Slides for Android updated with improved Hangout presentations (Google for Work) 
  • September: Now it's easier to invite a person or page into your Hangout video call or Hangout on Air
  • October: Jibe Mobile team joins Google :Committing to RCS, the latest standard in carrier messaging (Official Android blog) 
  • October: There’s a new screen when you leave a Hangout on Air or video call that lets you rejoin or send feedback (Michael Daniels) 
  • October: Hangouts 5.0 for Android is here: animated GIFs and compose group MMS(Android Police) 
  • October: Call businesses with a single click from the Google search results on your desktop computer via Hangouts (Mike Blumenthal) 
  • November: Google Hangouts is rolling out a new streamlined video call experience. The original interface will still be available (Eduardo Fernandez) 
  • November: Hangouts for iOS v6: bug fixes and quality improvements
  • November: Hangouts 6 for Android: bug fixes, performance enhancements, Android Wear notifications for incoming calls
  • November: Have guests join a Hangouts video call using a URL link, no Google account required (Google for Work)
  • December: Hangouts 6.1 for iOS: reply from notifications, group names in notifications, contact names in Google Voice notifications (Apple App Store) 

2015 Review: Blogger


Blogger's most newsworthy update in 2015 was a change in content policy to prohibit porn and graphic nudity - a policy that was reversed within a week. 

But Blogger got a number of improvements and updates: integration with Google Domains, making it easier to set up a custom domain for your blog; the option to enable HTTPS for security; drag and drop images into a post; and a Featured Post gadget.

The Blogger template language was also expanded - that may not matter to most bloggers, but for template designers this is a nice update.

And while there weren't any Google+-related changes, Blogger did become more Google-centric: private blog sharing and Google Friend Connect now require Google accounts

With all the major changes at Google+ and YouTube and Hangouts, it's nice that Blogger's functionality hasn't changed substantially as it's been updated.

  • January: Blogger integration with Google Domains makes it easier to get your business online
    • February: Blogger bans porn and graphic nudity then reverses the policy change. 
    • April: Google expands "mobile-friendliness" as a ranking signal on April 21
    • May: Adding new expressions to Blogger templates (Blogger Buzz) 
    • June: Private Blogger blogs: your readers must have a Google account
    • June: Even more expansion to the Blogger template language (Blogger Buzz) 
    • August: Blogger and Cookies notification in European Union countries (Blogger Help Forum) 
    • September: Blogger adds 28 new country-specific blogspot domains (Blogger help forum) 
    • October: HTTPS coming to Blogger .blogspot. blogs (Blogger Buzz) 
    • October: Bloggers and Webmasters: Google Domains now offers more top level domains to choose from, and custom email through Google Apps for Work (Google Domains) 
    • November How to find your Blogger blog images now that Google+ Photos is no longer accessible (updated G+ Post) 
    • November Updating the Google Search Quality Rating Guidelines (Webmaster Central Blog)
    • December Drag and drop images into your Blogger blog post drafts 
    • December The Featured Post gadget lets you highlight a post anywhere on you blog's layout (Blogger Buzz)
    • December Use Windows Live Writer to blog? Open Live Writer now has Blogger support! (Scott Hanselman)
    • December: Missing Blogger blog followers? Google Friend Connect now requires a Google account sign-in. Let your blog's followers know!

    2015 Review: AdSense


    A big change for AdSense this year is a new spirit of transparency. John Brown, head of AdSense Publisher Policy Communications has been posting on the official AdSense blog and even an  #AskTheAdSenseGuy column at Search Engine Journal. This is the new philosophy:
    We realize that we can improve our communications, especially around warnings, suspensions, and account disablement.  My charge is to do this. I have many people working with me on better education, along with improving the language and instructions around warnings or messages received from Google. I believe that publishers understand much better where they stand at all times when our policies are clear and when we communicate them effectively, and enforce consistently.
    A step in that direction: AdSense Payment History now displays invalid activity deductions.

    For potential Publishers they have simplified the application process.

    For established Publishers there are new ways to earn - Consumer Surveys, Matched Content, Google Contributor - plus new richer text ads and updated mobile text ads.

    There are also improved performance and revenue profile reports, and a redesigned mobile app.

    Too complicated? Hire a Certified Publishing Partner to help manage your account.

    And hopefully earnings will rise in 2016!

    AdSense 2015 Updates 
    Jump to the detailed overview for Google+PhotosLocal Businesses and PagesYouTube for viewersYouTube Creators and Partnerslive streamingHangoutsBlogger,  AdSense.

    Updated March 2019 to remove Google+ links :( 

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