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Year in Review 2017: Google and Your Photos

Google has been innovating with new software and hardware tricks and features for photos, and - especially - using machine learning to improve image recognition, enhancement and sharing.

In 2017 Google Photos launched a number of updates that make it more fun for casual photo sharers, like the ability to recognize your cat or dog's face, easier sharing, and photo books.

And Google Camera is getting smarter. On Pixel Phones you can access the new Google Lens option, which can tell you more about the business or landmark you’re looking at, or even take actions, like add a phone number in an image to your contacts.
While Google Photos is designed for sharing with family and friends, Google also provides cool tools and updates for Creators, the folks who go beyond simple snapshots, and who share their photos and videos publicly.

Here are my top 2017 updates:
At Google I/O in May new sharing features were launched: 500 million people using Google Photos, and three new ways to shareA ne…

Year in Review 2017: Google+ Comes Into Its Own

In 2017 Google+ both turned 6, and was born anew. “Classic” Google+ was finally retired and the new Google+ finally started to spread its wings.

In July 2015 Google announced that Google+ would no longer be the social layer across Google products, but rather would be focused on “shared interests”. In November of that year a new stripped down and responsive web interface was launched.  Throughout 2016 there were regular improvements for Google+ on the web. And finally, in January of 2017, Google+ was ready to retire the Classic version of the interface.

Without the need to support two separate interfaces, Google+ could start to introduce new features. And so while some of this year’s updates may have seemed like they were simply restoring features that were available in Classic, Google+ also introduced Discover, which is designed to help you find new people, posts, Collections and Communities based on your interests. And there are a number of new Community moderation tools and ot…

Year in Review 2017: YouTube Creators, Partners and Live Streamers

This year YouTube Creators have been hit hard by changes to the YouTube Partner Program, and some favorite features were retired. But there were some nice updates as well, and there are exciting updates in store for 2018.
My top YouTube Creator updates for 2017:New YouTube Partner Program application process, requiring 10,000 lifetime views, followed by a channel reviewThe Adpocalypse and expanded enforcement of the advertiser-friendly guidelines for monetization Crackdown on hateful, violent, extremist content, and disturbing content aimed at kidsMobile live streaming available to (almost) all channelsNew ways for live streamers to earn: Super Chat and Sponsorship Read on for more details and information about all the 2017 creator updates on YouTube, and what’s in store for 2018.
State of the ‘Tube: Billions and billions YouTube updated their logo and icon, designed to look good whether viewed on a tiny screen or a giant one. Important, since more than half of YouTube views come fro…

Weekly Update - December 23, 2017: Hangouts in Firefox, Webmaster FAQs, Google+ #CreateConnections

Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the ‘net, not an update was stirring, not even a reset …  OK, there were a few, but there aren’t likely to be any major updates until January. Here’s the most interesting changes this week.
Back in March, Firefox stopped supporting browser plugins, which meant Hangouts video calling stopped working. Now, finally, pluginless Hangouts videos calls are possible in the the lates version of Firefox. Hangouts Meet - the version of Hangouts for enterprise G Suite users - doesn’t work yet, but hopefully will be available soon.Google started new video series answering Webmasters' frequently asked questions about SEO and search. Subscribe to the Google Webmasters YouTube channel so you don’t miss an episode.Google Webmasters also launched a new Rich Results testing tool, and they shared some tips to get your website into shape for shift to mobile-first search indexing. You can also look forward to learning how to improve your Google+ content …

Weekly Update - December 16, 2017: Google+, AdSense minus YouTube, AR Stickers

This week there were gobs of goodies for Google+ers! But that’s not all - there are updates and tips for YouTube Partners, Live Streamers, Business Owners, and more.
Google+ launched two new features for Community Owners and Moderators: Community Insights for number lovers and bulk moderation of Community posts for spam haters. You can also now more easily rid your posts of spam (yay!) by using the new delete, report, and block option. Poof! Spam is gone, spammers are blocked, and Google+ is better for it. And if you really need to find that post your you made back in the summer of 2013, that awesome recipe posted in some community (but you aren’t quite sure which one), or just see all the posts that Mentioned you last week, the new Google+ advanced search operators are for you. There are a number of parameters you can use to search, including date, the type of post, whether it’s in a Community or Collection, and who posted or is mentioned. There isn’t a user-friendly interface (yet?…

Weekly Update - December 9, 2017: YouTube and abuse, Chrome Apps unlisted in the Chrome Store, Android Go

The last month of the year is usually pretty quiet, but even so, there is some interesting news and some helpful tips this month for YouTubers, Chrome users, Android fans, webmasters, live streamers and more.
Starting off on a light note: if you watch a lot of YouTube videos, check out YouTube Rewind 2017 to see if you can spot your favorite creator or musician, and identify the popular memes. I recognized a few. And, yes, this is just a big ad for YouTube. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki made two announcements this week. She explained how YouTube is expanding their work against content that may “mislead, manipulate, harass, or harm”. They are hiring humans “to address content” that violates YouTube policy (aiming for 10,000 across Google), improving machine learning to detect violent extremism, hate speech, and threats to child safety. Along with that, greater transparency around flagged content. Wojcicki also addressed the Creator Community, promising there will be improvements to the sy…

Weekly Update - December 2, 2017: Hangouts Meet, YouTube Community, #NotHacked

This week there are updates and tips for YouTubers, webmasters, business owners, Hangouts Meeters, Android users and more:
G Suite Enterprise customers can now host a Hangouts Meet video call with 50 people. Plus all users can now copy and paste Hangouts Meet conferences across Google Calendar events.It was #NoHacked week, and Google Webmasters wants you to keep your website and accounts un-hacked. They posted a tip a day, and if you have a website or blog, be sure to check it out! In September 2016, YouTube launched the channel Community tab in beta. Now, over a year later, YouTube is finally rolling out the Community tab to channels with over 10,000 subscribers. There’s no word as to when the feature will be available to smaller channels. YouTube also announced "Reels" - their take on the "stories" format. They are still "experimenting with a beta version", and so most creators aren't likely to have access for a while.VidMe launched in 2014 as a vid…

Weekly Update - November 25, 2017: Google Lens, YouTube Policy, Cyber Monday

All shopped out? Tired of turkey? Check out this week’s updates and tips. This week there are tidbits for YouTubers, live streamers, webmasters, AdSense Publishers and more.
Google Lens (announced in May) has finally come to the Google Assistant and Google Photos on Pixel phones. Lens can identify (or at least try to identify) what your camera is pointing to, from flower species to landmarks to works of art and movie posters. It can also scan bar codes and QR codes, and save and navigate to addresses, call phone numbers and add dates to your calendar.  There's no word when or if it will be available on other devices.In the wake of last week’s articles pointing to disturbing and spammy content seemingly aimed at kids, YouTube announced updated policies and improved enforcement. They are age-restricting and disabling monetization on some videos, removing thousands of others, and - as of last week - had terminated 50 channels under the new policies. But major advertisers are suspe…

Weekly Update - November 18, 2017: Google+ Profiles, Google Maps Icons, YouTube Kids content

This week there are updates for Plussers, YouTubers and much more:
Google+ has a new Profile “About” card on desktop, which nicely formats your personal details, and provides buttons to contact the profile owner directly. Check yours today to see if your profile needs tweaking.Google Maps updated its look to make it easier to identify businesses, services and landmarks. There are new color-coded icons and the icons you see are more context dependent - if you’re using driving navigation, you will see gas stations, while if you are using public transit, you’ll see train stations.YouTube announced that in-video notifications of a featured video or playlist will be discontinued December 14 . It turns out, very few people follow those links, and those who do sometimes are taken to a non-existent live stream. YouTube is encouraging using Cards and End Screens to promote your videos and playlists instead.YouTube also came under fire this week as media outlets noticed that there were “startl…

Weekly Update - November 11, 2017: Google Docs & Slides, AdSense, Chrome & Ads

This week Google Top Contributors from North and South America (and a few other places) met in Mountain View, California to learn, shmooze, and have some fun. It was a great time, and it was awesome to see everyone in person. In the past few weeks, there were also meetups in Dublin, Ireland and Singapore for Top Contributors around the world.

Check out the photos of all three TC Summits on Google+, Twitter, and Instagram.
As a result, the Weekly Update will be a bit shorter than usual this week. Here are my top updates:The image insertion process for Google Docs, Slides, and Drawings has been redesigned. Now you can more easily add one of your own photos or a photo from the web to your document or presentation.Google Docs and Slides now has fonts to support 62 languages, including non-Latin scripts like Cyrillic and DevanagariThe AdSense ad balance tool is back - it lets you reduce the number of ads you show to visitors to your website without significantly decreasing your income (hop…

Weekly Update - November 4, 2017: YouTube Live, Google+ Notifications, Hangouts Meet

Fortify yourself with leftover Halloween candy and a cup of tea, and take a look at this week's updates for YouTubers, live streamers, Google Plussers, Hangouts Meeters, business owners, Local Guides and more.
Live stream events are now easier to manage on YouTube. You can now copy settings from previous events, auto-start and there is automatic resolution detection.Small YouTube channels can now join in on the mobile live streaming fun - you only need 25 subscribers to stream from the YouTube mobile app.There was a big update for Google Hangouts Meet for G Suite Enterprise accounts. Now you can record your video calls to Google Drive and include up to 50 participants. And all Hangouts Meet users can use the new Meet hardware, which includes a 4k camera, speakermic, Chromebook and controller.The Google+ desktop notifications page now lets you open notifications in a new tab (hooray!!) and includes hovercards, so you can see more about the person who +1’d you right from the notific…

Weekly Update - October 28, 2017: Gmail Add-Ons, Google Lens, Nik Collection

This week there are updates and tips for photographers, Bloggers, YouTubers, and more. This week’s top updates:
YouTube announced that they have improved the technology for classifying videos for monetization, and are rolling out an update, significantly reducing the number of videos receiving limited ads (the dreaded yellow $). That means millions more videos will become fully monetized.The new Gmail Add-Ons let you complete tasks right from your email inboxEarlier this year, Google announced that they would no longer be updating popular Nik Collection of photo editing software. But it’s been rescued: DxO buys Nik collection from Google, and will resume developmentIn May, Google Lens was announced at Google I/O. Lens lets you take a photo, and have Google Assistant tell you more about what you are looking at. Google Lens is built into the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2XL, and it’s now rolling out to first-gen Pixel and Pixel XLsThe new Pixel 2s have unfortunately been generating a lot of complai…

Weekly Update - October 21, 2017: Google Calendar Makeover, Google Photos Pet Face Recognition, Advanced Account Security

This week’s updates should be especially interesting to folks interested in account security and abuse prevention. But that’s not all:
Google Calendar for web (finally) has a new look and features. This is Calendar’s first redesign since 2011! New features include the ability to add rich formatting and hyperlinks to your Calendar invite, and the ability to manage multiple calendars side by side in “Day” view. If you want the new look, you can opt in now!Google Photos face recognition can now recognize your cat or dog. That’s especially nice if you want to create an album, movie or photo book featuring your pet.October is National Cyber Security Awareness month, and Google is celebrating with some new features. The new Advanced Protection Program provides extra account security for those most at risk of attack, such as journalists, political workers, celebrities, folks seeking safety from an abusive relationship. And Google Account Security Checkup now has personalized advice - review…
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