Redesigned Google+ stream joined by 41 new features starting today

There's more - a lot more - coming out of Google IO

Google IO

Google is laying lots of love on its social platform today with the announcement of 41 new features across three major areas that will start rolling out today and over the next week for Google+.

Google Senior Vice President Vic Gundotra made his return to the Google IO keynote stage to talk about the burgeoning social network.

The stream will see a new design chopped up into columns, moving away from the "flat" design of the previous layout. Users will see between 1-3 columns depending on screen size and orientation, while photos and videos can take the entire wide of the screen.

Google is also adding a related hastags feature to the stream, which takes advantage of Google's vast access to the world's knowledge on the web. Let's say you're reading something about your favorite sports team: Google will hashtag is accordingly, then ID and rank relevant conversations across Google+. When users click on the related "#," the card will flip and let users browser related content inline.

Put a smile on your face

Google+ will add a new Hangouts app as well, plus new photo features.

On the photo front, every Google+ user will now have access to 15GB of free photo storage, and the company will automatically back up mobile pictures as the snaps are taken via Auto Backup (a.k.a Instant Upload).

In addition, the Google social network will automatically choose your best images for you using a new feature called Auto Highlight.

Alternately referred to as Highlights, the feature won't include images that are duplicates, blurry, or poorly shot. Its algorithms can, however, recognize landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and smiling faces.

It will also give greater prominence to photos of people it detects are important to you.

Google+'s new photo enhancing algorithms will also "take into account human taste" to automatically tweak noise reduction, white balance, tonal distribution, and more, and "make images perfect," Gundotra said, in a new feature call Auto Enhance.

Auto Awesome

Another new Google+ photo feature is Auto Awesome, which creates new images based on images you've uploaded.

Auto Awesome images can include collages, panoramas and choppy moving GIFs that Google will construct automatically and "gift" to users on Google+.

Auto Awesome will debut on Google+ this afternoon, according to Gundotra.