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Google+ user? Your Christmas present is 18 new features

Google is giving the people who use its social effort Google+ — yes they do exist — a nifty little Christmas present in the shape of 18 new features.

The new features include on-the-go profile editing, an easier way to author content, and a subtle notice when there’s new stuff to read. You can also subscribe to mobile notifications from your favorite circles and interact with Google+ Communities on your phone or tablet.

On Android meanwhile, the Mountain View giant says it is now offering full-size backups of your photos (up to 5GB free), in addition to the standard-size option (unlimited free storage at 2048px). You’ll also get photo spheres in the mobile stream. You’ll need Android 4.2 to create these 360-degree panoramas, but any Froyo-or-later user can now enjoy them.

Google is also bringing extra features that it claims will make event planning easier. Through Events, you can now send messages to specific guests and see who’s opened your invitation. You can invite people through Google+ or by simply copying the URL of your event into an email or IM, and your guests can RSVP with the number of people they’re bringing. You can also duplicate events if they’re going to repeat throughout the year or annually.

The biggest news for emerging markets though is that Google is now offering low-res hangouts. Once enabled, you’ll only need about 150 KB of bandwidth to be in a hangout, it says.

Finally the company claims it’s trying to improve the Hangouts on Air experience. “If you’re the only participant, we’ll automatically hide the “filmstrip” of faces and expand your video to fill the entire feed”, it says.