Google has added a handful of features to the social network in a major update by the end of 2011. Many of these updates are cosmetic in nature and work to improve upon features users are utilizing every day while on Google+.

This includes a way to enlarge the size of updates in your Stream, an easier way to work with photos uploaded to Google+, some tweaks to features of Pages and a whole new design to make notifications look better.

These updates are things most users might overlook, and that is why we are going to give you a rundown of what they do and how they impact your time on Google+.

A whole new way to look at Notifications

Google has redesigned the way Notifications look to make them more visually appealing and easier to read.

This includes tweaking the font, the layout and how things are displayed. You can still click on the arrows to the right to open a notification up for further instruction.

If you click on a Notification that someone has commented on a post you have made, you will see the familiar screen to read the comment as well as respond. At the bottom, you can click on View all activity on my posts to see further discussions going on or you can click on Mute this post to stop following the conversation.

Now, if you click on a Notification that someone has added you on Google+, you will see who added you.

You will also see if you have added them to a Circle, which Circle they belong to and a little bit about them whether it be there location or profession. You can also opt to ignore those who add you if you do not know them by either clicking on Ignore or Ignore All.

If someone has +1′d one of your posts, you will see how seamless the Notification looks. You can then also add another +1 or comment to it.

The new seamless look to Notifications makes them much easier to read and more comfortable for Google+ users to interact with.

“Volume” Controls for your Google+ Stream
Google has also added a new feature they called “volume controls” to your Circle Streams. This allows you to increase or decrease the frequency of posts that appear in your main Stream from your Circles.

Click on one of your Circles to load it into your Stream.

If you have not done this since the feature was introduced, a small pop-up will appear highlighting a bar where you can control the feature. Click “Okay, got it!” to continue.

If you move the bar all the way to the left, you will never see anything from the Stream you chose in your main Stream.

If you move the bar all the way to the right, you will see everything from the Stream you chose in the main Stream.

You can then go and adjust the frequency for each Circle you have by clicking on it and loading it into your main Stream.

This a great add-on for Streams, because it allows users to control just how much they are seeing when there Circles start to grow. You can still catch everything by clicking on an individual Circle to load it into your Stream but now you can catch the big news in your main Stream.

Photo lightbox makes working with pictures more seamless
The photo lightbox has been completely redesigned to make working with your pictures easier and quicker. Google+ wants to break away from how other sites allow you to work with your pictures and by making these changes, they hope users see just how easy it is to work with photos online.

Google has improved the photo tagging feature, including adding face tagging for others to make it easier to tag you in a photo as we previously reported. Along with the Creative Kit, Google+ wants to be the first place you upload and share multimedia. Whether you upload pictures manually or with the Instant Upload feature, Google+ has made much needed improvements to the photo system that makes it simpler to use for all on the social network.

Google+ Pages get Multiple Admins, Better Notifications
Google+ launched Pages and businesses, celebrities and more jumped on board to begin promoting themselves on the social network. Google has continued to make changes to Pages to make them a much more effective tool for those utilizing them.

Google+ Pages now allow you to assign up to 50 administrators to a Page. For larger Pages, this can be beneficial to keep everything flowing smoothly. Google has also added better Notifications and a count of who is engaging with your Pages so you can see how they spread.

What can we look forward to from Google+ in 2012?
Not many social networks can boast the amount of updates Google+ has since its release both in beta and to the public. Google aims to make Google+ the go to destination for social networking on the web and that means keeping up on the times, innovations and evolution the Internet takes on.

You will continue to see frequent, compelling updates from Google on Google+ both that impact directly how you use the site and how it runs in the background. If you thought 2011 was the year for Google+, hold your breath for what comes to it in 2012.