Google+ now open to everyone: Live broadcasts, hangouts on your phone, search
Google rolled out nine new features pertained to its social thing dubbed Google+. Per the official blog post by Google’s head of engineering Vic Gundotra, the service is no longer in limited beta. Beginning today, everyone can join the party at google.com/+ – no invitation required. Yes, Facebook’s worst nightmare comes true just three months following the service’s introduction.
Next up, Google’s search expertise comes to Google+. The big search box now returns relevant people, posts and web content. The popular Hangout feature has gotten lots of enhancements. For example, developers can now take advantage of the new Google+ Hangouts APIs to write more integrated, immersive apps. Google-created Hangout extras (still rough around the edges) include screensharing, sketchpad, Google Docs integration and named hangouts. Give it a try by clicking the “Try Hangouts with extras” link in the green room.
Even more interesting, it is now possible to broadcast a hangout for the world wide web to see. They call it Hangouts on Air and even though you can broadcast and record your session, there’s still that nagging nine-per-hangout limit. Of course, an unlimited number of people can be spectators of your live broadcast.
Another cool addition: You can join a hangout from your mobile phone, by finding an active hangout in the Stream of the Google+ app and tapping “Join”. This works on Android 2.3+ phones with front-facing cameras, but Google said iOS support is “coming soon”. The aforementioned features will be rolling out globally over the next day (not days, per usual), Google said.
Google released the Hangout API for developers as well.
Last, but not the least, Dave Girouard, a Google Apps guy, announced on Twitter that Google+ is coming to business and education customers soon, indicating that Google+ will be rolled out to Google Apps users. “New stuff on G+ today that biz/edu will love! Working hard to bring G+ to Google Apps in the very near future!”, his tweet reads. In our opinion, this could be a game-changer in the social media landscape, probably putting Facebook on the defensive – especially when Google begins selling and promoting Google+ apps on the Apps Marketplace.