Google Maps Views furthers Google+ integration, now displays your publicly shared location-enabled photos

Views is a website under the Google Maps umbrella, with the focus of helping people explore the world through photos. With the most recent update, that also means any photo publicly shared by your Google+ account with location data enabled.

Although the most recent update to the site contains elements of Google's new design vision - Material Design, the biggest changes involve the further convergence of this product and Google+.

"Starting today, photos with locations that have been shared publicly from your Google+ account will appear in Views ( in addition to your photo spheres. Some photos may also appear on +Google Maps, making the map more useful and comprehensive for everyone." - +Evan Rapoport 

With this in mind, it would be advisable to check your own profile on Views to make sure you're not accidentally sharing photos not intended to have been shared publicly or with location data enabled. Thankfully, Google has made it easy to change the sharing settings of your photos - Just click on a photo, press the menu button (three dots) and click on "Manage location data" to toggle.

Show your support with the new "Applause" app for Hangouts On Air

"Applause" is a fresh'n'fun way to give feedback in real-time when viewing a live Hangout On Air broadcast.

The app, enabled by default as standard makes use of the little yellow Hangouts emoji and changes to reflect the metrics as the cheers (or jeers) roll in.
Like what you see? Give'em a thumbs up! Otherwise, hit the big fat red button
Of course, this isn't the first time users have been able to interact with HOA hosts - Live Q&As have been a thing for a while as well as being able to shop for products as they're showcased with the (you've guessed it) Showcase app.

[Update] View your Google+ Communities' photos in one place

An Communities update rolled out yesterday introducing a new tab to the left-hand navigation, which allows you to view all the photos shared to that community in one place.

It's a tweak that will have shutterbugs jumping for joy as community members can view and +1 all the photos shared without ever leaving the page. Comments and shares can be made as normal (providing the original sharer hasn't disabled these) via the Photos lightbox.

Contact pinning and more arrive for Hangouts in Gmail

Several improvements are rolling out for Hangouts in Gmail today, which includes contact pinning functionality and a new tab for easy access to your online buddies.

There are now two tabs in the desktop version of Hangouts in Gmail: Hangouts Contacts and Hangouts Conversations. Both tabs are self-explanatory, but the update makes it easier to see who's online currently.

Contact pinning is also a thing in Hangouts as of today, and it's simple to send your favourite contacts right to the top, just hit the drop-down menu on your desired contact and click on "Pin to top". Wollah!
Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like today's improvements are making their way to other desktop Hangouts properties (Google+, Chrome extension) as of yet, but here's hoping that changes soon.