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Google+ Gets Facelift, Leg Up on Facebook

Google is beating Facebook to the punch with a small makeover for its social network Google+.

The day before Facebook was set to launch its revamped news feed — which is to include a photos feed of users’ Facebook and Instagram images, as well as a made-over music feed — Google+ Product Manager Sara McKinley announced three main adjustments to the site to address user feedback.

“We spend lots of time listening to your feedback, and today we’re launching some profile and page updates that you’ve been asking for,” McKinley said in a blog post Wednesday evening (March 6).

The changes, which are rolling out in the coming days, include:

• A new tab for users’ local reviews. “In addition to your photos, +1?s and YouTube videos, there’s now a place for all your local reviews,” McKinley said. “Highlight your favorite restaurants, or hide the tab completely via settings — it’s completely up to you.”

• An easier way to edit user information. The ‘about’ tab is now made up of separate cards such as ‘story, places, and links’ — each has its own prominent edit link.“ As always: you can share specific fields with specific circles, or keep them just for you,” she said.

• Bigger cover photos, with a better aspect ratio. Cover photos have been enlarged (up to 2120px by 1192px), and display in 16×9 when fully expanded. This enables more images to be used as cover photos, making “more room for your selection to shine,” she said.

While the changes are not monumental, they are an indication Google is moving into the second phase of its Google+ project — now that user identity has been established across Google’s services, the search engine giant can now focus on making it the social network of choice.

In other Google news, the company has announced developer boot camps to promote its new Google+ sign-in feature.

“Since our launch of Google+ Sign-In with trusted authentication, over-the-air installs, app customization, interactive posts, and app activities on Feb. 26, we have received huge interest from the developer community about integrating the new features,” a blog post reads. “The interest was so significant, in fact, that we thought a better way to enable as many developers as possible would be a series of Google+ sign-in bootcamps.”

Those participating in the five-day bootcamps will have the chance to work side-by-side with Google engineers, while creating Web and mobile applications with Google+ sign-in. Google engineers will be on hand to provide design advice, help with any implementation issues and offer suggestions on how to nab large numbers of signed-in users.

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