I'd say they were new, I wouldn't say they were hugely improved. I've never figured out how pics get to the front page. When I joined, on my original profile, years back, I had pics in there almost immediately and they were not particularly good. I was told that it's just images from paying members.
But I have no idea if that's true.
The front page images used to be "paid" members
But for some unknown reason to myself
That is no longer the case