Google has announced significant changes to Google and Hangouts in the Google I/O 2013 keynote event today.
Google has had its design updated to incorporate multiple columns, as opposed to the previous single column design, that can dynamically change depending on the device being used, whether tablet, phone or desktop PC. In addition to design updates Google can automatically add hashtags to shared posts to provide context. It can add hashtags to images as well as text by using image analysis and recognising landmarks, for example a picture of the Big Ben would be automatically tagged as #bigben, making searching for related content simpler.
Google Hangouts, previously exclusive to Google , will now also be a standalone app able to run on Android, PCs (via web browser), and Apple's iOS. Group videos for up to 9 people at the same time will still be supported free of charge, but additional “chat” features are added included a list of conversations, whether with one person or with a group. These chats include text and images and don’t expire; allowing users to scroll back to the beginning of the conversation regardless of how long ago it started.
Syncing notifications across multiple platforms appears to be a theme across the Google I/O keynote speeches. Hangouts adds to this theme by removing a notification from one device if it has been read or dismissed from another.