By Alistair Barr
SAN FRANCISCO - Google said Tuesday its social network Google+ has seen a 58% jump in users in recent months.
Vic Gundotra, head of social at Google, said Google+ has 300 million monthly active users, up from 190 million in May.
Google+ members who have interacted socially with any of Google's services in the past 30 days total 540 million, up from 390 million in May, he added.
Google is also uploading 1.5 billion photos per week, and that number is increasing at "an amazing rate," Gundotra said during an event here.
Google did not say how many of those photos are being shared on Google+. But Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product management at Google+, said it was a "very big number."
Google+, the company's social network, has struggled to keep up with the growth of Facebook since the Internet search leader launched the service in 2011.
Facebook has more than 1 billion monthly active users, while Twitter has just over 230 million.
However, Google is not just focusing on building the largest social network. Google+ is also an important tool that helps the company identify and authenticate users across all its services, including search, Gmail and YouTube, Horowitz said.
"Both missions are harmonized," Horowitz said. Google+ creates a social layer that provides a "coherent notion of a person" as they use other Google products, he explained.
That helps improve those products, but also helps Google serve better ads - the core of its business.
"The goal of Google+ is to make all Google services better, including ads," Horowitz said.
Gundotra unveiled several new Google+ features Tuesday that are focused on sharing photos on the social network, searching them and enhancing them.
Google has added about 1,000 more words, including "hug," "kiss" and "waterfall," that its algorithm can use to track down photos that have been uploaded to Google+.
Since Google+ started, the number of videos uploaded to the social network has jumped 20 fold, Gundotra also reported.
The executive unveiled Auto Awesome Movie, a new service that helps Google+ users create a movie from a collection of video clips that have been uploaded to the social network.
Google CEO Larry Page was laser focused on social for one or two years as Facebook went on a hiring spree and prepared for an IPO, which took place in 2012.
Since then, Google has shifted focus to other projects, such as Glass, the company's cutting-edge connected glasses, which operate through voice recognition.
Wall Street has embraced Google's shift, pushing the company's shares above $1,000 for the first time in recent weeks.