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Google boosts photo offerings to rival Facebook

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Posted May 16, 2013
Vic Gundotra, senior vice president, engineering for Google, speaks at Google I/O 2013 in San Francisco, Wednesday, May 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Vic Gundotra, senior vice president, engineering for Google, speaks at Google I/O 2013 in San Francisco, Wednesday, May 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Google is digging deeper into its technology toolkit to turn its social networking service into a more formidable threat to Facebook, sprucing up its photo features at a time when sharing snapshots online and on mobile gadgets is growing more popular.

 

Many of the 41 new features being added to Google Plus beginning Wednesday will draw upon the computing power, machine learning, algorithms, semantics analysis and other innovations that established Google’s search engine as the most influential force on the Internet.

“All of these features collectively put more of ‘the Google’ into Google Plus,” said Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president of engineering, in an interview. “This will give people a powerful reason to come to Google Plus.”

But the most compelling new attraction may be a new photo-management tool that promises to test how much control people want to cede to computers. It will also further blur the lines between a real moment in time and augmented reality.

Google promises the feature will pick out the best shots from a wide assortment of photos. The automatic photo selection is done by calling upon Google’s knowledge of the elements that make up a visually pleasing picture, coupled with facial recognition technology and a vast database that helps tie together the relationships of people appearing in a photo. Google says its computers will recognize the best photos featuring family members or close friends of a person who uploads a bunch of pictures to Plus.

“You have amazing images of the most precious image of your life,” Gundotra told a software developers conference Wednesday as he discussed the additions to Google Plus. “But if we are honest with each other photos are very labor intensive.”

If the photos don’t look quite right, Google is promising to enhance them, taking over a job that typically requires people to buy and master special photo editing software such as Adobe System Inc.’s Photoshop, Apple’s iPhoto or Google’s Picasa. Computer-controlled editing tools will automatically remove red eyes, soften skin tones, sharpen colors and adjust contrast. Google offers something similar through an “I’m Feeling Lucky” button on Picasa.

Read more at: Phys.org

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