Google Lets Users Add Holiday Snow and Twinkles to Online Photos

Google provides free photo upgrades for users to add the festive spirit of the winter holidays.

Google wants to add some flashy and decorative twinkles and snow to your online holiday photograph—literally.

That's exactly what the search giant is now offering to users as part of a new and free service aimed at any user who wants to puff up their online images.

The photo enhancements were unveiled by Erik Murphy-Chutorian, a Google software engineer, in a Dec. 5 post on his Google+ page as part of Google's Auto Awesome photo services, which were announced in September.

"Just in time for the holidays, we're rolling out two new ways to make your Google+ photos more awesome, automatically," wrote Murphy-Chutorian. The first is "Twinkle," which allows users to "upload a new photo of something that sparkles (like a Christmas tree or a chandelier), and we'll gift you a version with lights that actually twinkle."

If snow is more to your liking, then that's just what Google has for you, he wrote. With this service, users can "upload a new photo with snow to Google+, and we'll gift you a version with snow that's actually falling," he added.

Users will receive an email notification when their #AutoAwesome images are ready, he wrote. "We hope these features help you celebrate the 'wonder' in winter wonderland!"

Google has been adding lots of photo enhancement features for users this year.

In August, Google Maps launched a new community site called Views to make it easy for users to publicly share their photos of places by contributing photo spheres to Google Maps (photo spheres are 360-degree panoramas that can be easily be created with your Android phone). The service allows visitors to add their own gorgeous photos to the amazing maps that are constantly being created with Google Maps.

Photo spheres can be created with the camera in Android 4.2 or higher, including most Nexus devices.

The images created with photo spheres can be spectacular, from incredible landscapes to lovely urban images filled with detail, color and clarity. Photo spheres are captured by Android devices through a series of multiple photos that can automatically be turned into a seamless 360-degree experience, according to Google's documentation. Users can also turn their digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera panoramas into photo spheres, according to Google.

To upload 360-degree photo spheres, users can sign into the Views site with their Google+ ID, then click the blue camera button on the top right of the page. Users can then import their existing photo spheres from their Google+ photos. They can also upload 360-degree photo spheres to Views from the Gallery in Android by tapping "Share" and then selecting Google Maps.

The new Views page also incorporates the Street View Gallery, which means that visitors can also view the incredible panoramas of other Google Street View collections, from the Grand Canyon to the Swiss Alps.