Google is now giving Google account holders creative capabilities that let them highlight and share their photos and videos through a new free "picture book" service it calls Google+ Stories.
The innovative and cool Stories feature collects the photos and videos that users back up to their Google accounts and then automatically sorts them into digital photo books that describe their activities and more. The Stories feature is part of the expanding Auto Awesome photo capabilities that were unveiled by Google in 2013.
The new service was unveiled by Anil Sabharwal, director of product management for Google+, in a May 20 post on the Google Official Blog. "A suitcase full of dirty clothes. A sad-looking house plant. And 437 photos and videos on your phone, tablet and camera. This is the typically messy scene after a vacation," he wrote. "And although we can't do your laundry (thanks but no thanks), or run your errands (well, maybe a few), we'd still like to help. Enter Google+ Stories, which can automatically weave your photos, videos and the places you visited into a beautiful travelogue."
For users, the automatic selection of images will be done by Google's photo recognition systems and organized into a storyline based on the images and videos found in their Google accounts. "No more sifting through photos for your best shots, racking your brain for the sights you saw, or letting your videos collect virtual dust," wrote Sabharwal. "We'll just gift you a story after you get home. This way you can relive your favorite moments, share them with others, and remember why you traveled in the first place."
The new service is available first on Android and the Web, with an iOS version to come, wrote Sabharwal.
Several examples of the new Google+ Stories feature from other users can be found on Google+, including stories from paraglider Tom de Dorlodot, DJ Steve Aoki and Allrecipes photographer Angela Sackett, wrote Sabharwal. Sabharwal also posted several of his own examples of his personal Stories, including a video of his young daughter's first bicycle ride and a picture book of a family trip to Cabo San Lucas in November 2013.
Travel memories aren't the only thing being collected by Google's Auto Awesome services, wrote Sabharwal. "When it's less about travel, and more about today's events (like a birthday party, or baby's first steps), Google+ Movies can produce a highlight reel of your photos and videos automatically—including effects, transitions and a soundtrack."
The Movies service is available now to Android, iOS and Web users.
To get started with Stories and Movies, users must back up their photos and videos to Google+ using their devices. "Auto Awesome will get to work in the background, and you'll get notified when a story or movie is ready," wrote Sabharwal. "In fact, if your photo library is already online, you may already have stories waiting for you. So look for the new app in Google Play, view the full list of improvements on Google+, and enjoy your walks down memory lane."
Google has been adding lots of photo enhancement features for users recently.
In December 2013, Google added flashy and decorative twinkles and snow to users' photographs using its Auto Awesome photo enhancements.
In October 2013, Google+ added an assortment of cool, creative new tools that helped users get more out of their photos using Auto Awesome. Included were are automatic photo enhancement capabilities that let users correct poorly exposed original images, and wider photo finding capabilities that allow users to type in words such as "snowmen" or "cars" to find images containing such elements.
Also included were expanded new Auto Awesome capabilities that let users "stitch" images together to create image strobe effects that make the photos appear to include movement. And there's a new "eraser" feature that allows users to edit their images to remove unwanted things that might be in the background of the photo, such as a parked car or a street sign.
The Auto Awesome capabilities were first launched by Google+ in May 2013.