Social media sites are quite adept at capturing information about us, and every update and added feature is usually a way to make this task easier. Google+ is no different, and the latest updates include larger cover photos and minor profile layout changes.
Google+ Your Local Reviews
Most people use their mobile devices to search for places to eat or visit when they go out for the evening. If they are using Google for that search, guess where the search info is now popping up on Google+? In the new Local reviews tab.
Local reviews is just what it sounds like, so anyone who has done a Google review of something now has a place for that info to live on their G+ profile page. Additionally, Google will suggest new places to review under the Local reviews tab, and this suggestion area will populate with recent Google searches. As with most elements on Google+, reviews can be shared with chosen circles, made public or kept private.
Because Google is powered mainly by its search ability, this integration seems pretty logical, and it's an idea its competitors no doubt have latched onto. Microsoft and Facebook have both been focusing more and more on search integration with their products. Facebook has the recently announced Graph Search and Microsoft launched Socl, a social network even more focused on search than Google+.
Larger Cover Photo, Layout Updates
Besides the added reviews section, profile cover photos have been enlarged and now display in 16:9 format when fully expanded, Google's Sara McKinley posted on her Google+ page this week. The large images go up to 2120 px by 1192 px now, and in size now look more like the Facebook cover photos.
One of our Google+ profiles with the Local reviews tab highlighted.
Google also changed some of the about tab layout elements on people's profiles. Biographical information, education, work and circles info each are now in their own little box for a bit of a neater format. There's less white space around each of the elements, something the larger cover photos also accomplish.
Overall, they're not huge changes, but we suspect Google felt it had to throw something out there because Facebook is announcing its new News Feed update today. We know that's going to get a pretty big reaction, go Google likely didn't want to get totally pushed out of the news spotlight.
What Google looks to be doing is preparing Google+ to open itself up to mobile ads via location targeting. With the addition of the Local reviews, it would be even easier for companies to target people because they have a detailed record of the places they like.
Anyone walking around with their mobile device's GPS turned on could log into their G+, and instantly see special offers for places nearby or their favorite places they haven't been to yet this week. Throw in some augmented reality, and soon, Google Glass, and the plan for Google+ quickly falls into view.