Google+ gets visual analytics, photo editing, popular post spotlights

The Google+ social network has expanded its feature set with new analytics visualizer, in-browser photo editing and a page to see what's popular on Plus right this second.

Obviously, the big news with the Google+ social network today is its newfound availability to Google Apps domains. But that's not all Google had under its belt: today also brought a series of Google+ updates that bring a visualization tool to see how popular posts get shared, a browser-based photo editing tool and a way to see the most popular posts of the moment.

Google+ Ripples, the aforementioned analytics tool, is designed for those who want to see how a popular post moved across the network. Just click "View Ripples" on a public Google+ post, and you can see a timeline of comments, +1s, and shares, zoom in on certain events, and spot the top contributors. Google has put a demo on YouTube, for the curious.

The goal of Ripples, according to Vic Gundotra on the Official Google Blog, is to "help people re-live those conversations—both to rekindle that initial excitement, and to learn how posts flow across the network."

Meanwhile, "What's Hot on Google+" is fairly self-explanatory: it's a new page designed to spotlight the most popular posts and topics on the network in a way that seems fairly similar to Twitter's infamous Trending Topics. For users, it's right under your list of Circles on the left side of the Google+ homepage.

But for my money, the best new feature is the Google+ Creative Kit, a web-based photo editor with some basic but useful, functionality like photo sharpening, layering text, or adding Instagram-esque photo filters. Essentially, it's designed to bring your photo sharing game to the next level. You can see a video demonstration here.

There are also some limited-edition Halloween effects available on the Google+ Creative Kit now, and they're having a casual contest to find the best holiday-themed photo - just hashtag your photo with #gplushalloween and you're entered.

Google seems bent on making Google+ a success, no matter what the odds may be. And who knows? Maybe with enough of these iterative updates, Google+ will eventually turn into the solid, innovative, unique social platform that Google so clearly wants it to be.