Google+ Chrome Extensions: Photo Zoom & Surplus

I’ve become very fond of Google+, both as a place where I can watch what important people are saying (that is, a Twitter replacement) and as a place where I can have pretty interesting discussions – and sometimes both at once.

But as always there are some places where the innate G+ functionality just isn’t quite up to what I want yet. So the other day I took a spin through the Chrome Web Store looking for G+ extensions.

A couple things to note: G+ is very new and it’s changing rapidly. In addition, Google has just recently released parts of the G+ API. (If that sentence doesn’t make sense to you, you can safely ignore it.)

Putting these things together means that extensions are coming and going and changing at a furious rate. New ones pop up, old ones are abandoned, and some of them stop working for a few days or a week while their author gets them sorted out.

Keeping that in mind, I wanted to share some of my current favorites. I’ve got six different G+ extensions installed right now to test them out, but several of them duplicate functionality. I’m only hitting the two simplest ones today; turns out the complicated ones are … complicated.

+Photo Zoom: Hover over a photo on G+ and +Photo Zoom loads the enlarged version of the image. (It supports a hover delay and zoom on keypress as well.) This is a simple, simple extension that stays out of your way and does what you want.

As it happens, I don’t usually want it, but that’s fine: +Photo Zoom adds a simple toggle button on the Google top bar to turn it off and on as needed.

Surplus: This is my hands-down favorite at the moment. Unfortunately the extension has problems with Chrome 13+ and hasn’t been updated for a week. It still works, but at the moment it runs in ‘Lite’ mode which includes only some of the functionality.

Like many other extensions, Surplus puts a notification box on Chrome itself that shows you how many new notifications you have on Google+. When you click on the notification badge, you get a drop down that shows you your most recent ten or so notifications and whether or not you have read them. Click on a notification to open that exchange in a new tab.

So what functionality is missing in Lite? Actually, the above is what Lite does; I believe that the non-Lite version adds the functionality you get from the real Notification drop down in the Google top bar. In other words, it’s like you have the Google top bar on any site – except without the top bar.

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