Google+ updates Hangouts with HD, filters, and more

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SAN FRANCISCO — At a photo-focused press conference today, Google announced some fun updates to Hangouts.

The changes, said social senior vice president Vic Gundotra, have been much requested for the various Hangout applications and use cases and are part of the numerous Google+ rolling updates.

The Hangout app now includes location-sharing powered by Google Maps; animated GIFs “to make your friends laugh,” said Gundotra; and integration of SMS, which has been rumored since earlier this month.

For Hangouts On Air, Google is adding planning, promotion, and management features. Arrangements can be made through Google+, and then a landing page is created for marketing and PR purposes. You can boost posts’ visibility through the management UI.

Finally, Hangout video calls are getting HD capabilities and features to automatically correct stuff like backlighting and hipster-friendly filters.

Also, in terms of momentum, the company told us that Google+ has accrued more than 300 million monthly active users and sees around 1.5 billion photos uploaded each week.

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