Google just announced that it is taking its new social network Google+ out of its semi-private field trial today. Google+ is now in an open beta and anybody with a Google account can now sign up without the need for an invite (though Google Apps users still can’t get in). As part of this, Google is also making a plethora of new features available today. Among these are a number of new features for its Hangout video chat service and new tools for mobile users. Google is also finally making it possible to search through old Google+ posts.
New Features: Mobile Hangouts, Screensharing, Collaboration, API
The area that is getting the most attention today, however, is Google’s Hangout feature. Among other things, it is now possible to use hangouts on the go (Android-only for now, though support for iOS is coming soon). Users in a Hangout video chat can now also share their screens, draw an a shared sketchpad and write on shared Google Docs. Google also announced a new “Hangouts on Air” feature today, which will soon allow anybody to broadcast and record their hangouts and share them with an unlimited number of viewers.
Google is also launching a basic API for this tool.
As for the search feature, Google will now let you search through both public and private posts. It’s not quite clear how Google is ranking these search results, but Google is clearly trying to rank posts by relevance as they are not ordered chronologically. It’s good to see that the company is finally making this feature available. Given Google’s expertise in search, the omission of a search feature for Google+ was always a bit puzzling.
New on Mobile: Post by SMS; Goodbye Huddle, Welcome Messenger (With Photo Sharing)
Among the other interesting new features for mobile users is the ability to use text messaging to post to Google+. This feature is currently only available for users in the U.S. and India, but more countries should follow soon. To get started with this, just verify your phone number in your Google+ settings.
Huddle, the group messaging feature that was only available in the mobile Google+ clients for Android and iOS is now being renamed “Messenger.” Besides renaming the service, Google is also adding one cool new feature to it: photo sharing. When you are in a group chat, you can now upload photos from your phone directly into the chat.
100 New Features Since Launch
With these additions, Google today announced, the company has now released 100 new features since the initial launch of Google+ earlier this year. All of these new features will roll out globally over the next few days.