Google+ Updated: New Web and App Features
Today marked a big day for Google’s fledgling social network. The service that has been in a closed field trial since it debuted in the beginning of July, and limited the network to invite only, has pushed into open beta.What this means is that anyone with a valid email address can sign up. Google toted features for G+ such as circles that allowed you to share specific posts with specific people. This is great if you have something personal, such as a wild party, you want to share with your friends that you don’t want your boss to see. Another feature is Hangouts. Basically someone could start a hang out and others would see that they are online hanging out and join in. Ideas of business meeting and real time collaboration were hinted at with this feature.
With today’s update that reality came one step closer to fruition. Google announced that Hangouts would have real time document collaboration, the ability to share a quick doodle and the ability to record and save video. To push the use of hangouts Google updated its Android G+ app to allow mobile hang outs. The only requirements are phones with a front-facing camera and Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). For some who bought their phones before the widespread push of front-facing cameras and Gingerbread this means waiting for an upgrade or shelling out a bunch of money to use this feature. For most, the use of mobile hangouts will not be missed.
All in all, Google is hoping to put all those worried that Google+ was abandoned at ease with its update today. While the added features to the Android app are great for those with the necessary hardware, they are features that other android apps have had for a while. With Google giving developers access to their Google+ API’s and opening the network up to everyone, it will be interesting to see how this social network shapes up in the coming future.