Google Plus, the social networking service that has long been in a restricted field test, is now officially in beta. That's right, folks, you can stop leaving comments on this post asking people to invite you and just head on over and sign up yourself because Google Plus is now open to the public. The doors have been thrown open wide and all are welcome.

Google Plus Open To All

One of the biggest frustrations with Google Plus to date, at least for me personally, has been the limitations on the number of users. While there are millions of them, it pales in comparison to the number of people on Facebook. Most of the Google Plus users I know have even started to slow in their posting there, because their audience is still so small.

But now all that could change, because there's about to be a barnstorm. No more waiting for invitations to open up. No more walls. Google Plus is out in the wild, and anyone can take part. Just in case I didn't make that link in the first paragraph obvious enough...

Click here to sign up for Google Plus.

New Video Features In Google Plus Hangouts

Now, let's talk about some of the amazing new features Google Plus is adding to video. There are several new and updated features across the board, but many have to do with Hangouts--the live video chat service.

Mobile Hangouts

Google Plus Open To Everyone, Adds Killer Video Features To Hangouts hangouts on mobile phone1

You can now use Google Plus Hangouts to chat live, on video, from your mobile device. Awesome. And you don't even need to download a new app--it's a new update rolling out today for the Google Plus app many users already have installed. Sadly, it only works on Android 2.3 devices and higher. And obviously, only on devices with a front-facing camera.

But if you have both, this is a sweet new addition to hangouts, allowing you to be even more mobile than ever while still maintaining instant video contact with up to 10 people.

Live Video Broadcasts With Hangouts On Air

Google Plus Open To Everyone, Adds Killer Video Features To Hangouts hangouts on air

You can now use Google Plus Hangouts as a broadcasting tool. Simply set up a standard Hangout, and choose the new option for "broadcast." You can even record your broadcast and use it later, and anyone you open your Hangout to can watch your live broadcast. It doesn't sound like there's even any limit to the number of viewers, and in fact On Air is intended to help you reach larger audiences.

There's one big caveat, of course: broadcasting privileges are limited... by Google. That means they're going to hand pick the accounts that can use the feature, much like the way YouTube chooses channels for the Partner program. But it could open up wider pretty soon, and could make a pretty awesome communication tool for businesses.

Hangouts With Extras

Hangouts now also has a cool set of "extras," any one of which would be awesome on their own:

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Screensharing - You can now share your screen through Hangouts, whether you're showing viewers a website, a document, or whatever else you may have up on screen.

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Sketchpad - A simple drawing tool, which all participants can use at the same time.

Google Docs - Google Docs is now integrated into Hangouts, which is awesome.

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Named Hangouts - When creating a public hangout, you can now give it a custom name centered around the reason or topic for your session.

These extras are "still under construction." That means you have to opt in to be able to use them. There's a "Try Hangouts with extras" button in the green room.

Hangouts API

For developers, there's now a set of Hangouts APIs, which you can tinker with to build your own apps or games. You can read more about the API here.

Google Plus Search

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Not all of the features added to Google Plus had to do with Hangouts and video. For instance, you can now search within the service for Google Plus content. Google says they'll return "relevant people and posts, as well as popular content from around the web." It's an obvious attempt to help users find new people to connect with and follow, but it's also a highly-requested feature by users.

Google Plus Mobile App Features

There are also a host of new fixes, updates, and features to the Google Plus mobile app. They include a new Messenger service (replacing the old Huddle feature) with photo-sharing capabilities, the ability to edit your profile photo, customized notifications, and more. You can read all about them on the Google Mobile blog.


I've been banging the gong for Hangouts as a business tool for a while now, in part because I've been using it as one, and it's quite effective. And the new features added today will make it even more useful and appealing for even more applications in the workplace--think about a CEO who uses the new On Air broadcasting feature to address his employees before the work day, or the field workers collaborating on a project--through video--while thousands of miles apart.

And now that Google Plus is open to anyone and everyone who wants in, there's a greater chance we'll start seeing and hearing about how Hangouts can help businesses and individuals connect and engage.

Outside of Hangouts and video, the open beta should breathe a bit of new life into a service that was starting to make some analysts worry about a drop-off. I still don't see a mass exodus of people from Facebook to Google Plus--in fact, most of my friends have been maintaining both accounts. But it should bring in a ton of new users to friend, follow, add to circles, or interact with on Hangouts.

Oh, and one last time for good measure: you can sign up for Google Plus here.

  • Marvin Ramselaar

    Google plus needs more users page!

  • John Maulana

    I hope I can join up

  • Christopher Plummer

    If Google really wants to make money off this they have to find a way to truly differenciate themselves from the artist/small company atmosphere of Vimeo and the consumerist ruffians at YouTube.

  • Yoon Hyuk

    TIMING is everything...Myspace had become this teen-bopping, ad-whore, virus/phish booby trapping, DEAD space of a wasteland, when Facebook came on to the scene.Sure most of those teens&grade schoolers may have migrated to FB, BUT they can no longer tag up their page, blast their stupid music, or apply the annoying animated gif file to their profile picture. We can pretty much be certain that the folks at FB have no intentions of going that route. had Google+ come out then, I'm sure scene would be different. But with FB being pretty established and yet to plateau, for most already on FB, it wouldn't be worth the hassle to start all over again..... unless Google offers to reward people with a computer/phone/pad for signing up and having at least 100 legitimate people come on board.

  • Al Bryant

    I never used goofly I have always used yahoo and never had a problem finding things ever.

  • Hydros Kalodi


  • Shalu

    There is a limit to the number of sites and social networks one can join. Google is being over ambitious here.

  • Nikki Bird

    I am not sure if they are the result of something I did, or something Google left on my computer, but if I do not soon find a way to stop the popups asking me to +1 sites I like, I am going to switch to Yahoo as my main search engine.

  • Dmitry Kolmogorov

    It saves what You like, so You can access it later, that's rather convenient.
    Free conference calls. pretty much kill Skype, and blogs become redundant due to its format.
    Think about it for a few seconds. its an all in one shampoo.

  • Abraham Vettiyankal Mani

    all the best for Google Plus.

  • MishoMoka

    day 1, letme see

  • Noushad Hamza

    hiiii,,,,,, how,,,,, r,,,,, u,,,,,,

  • Kyle Schooler

    there is a short url for Goolge+ -

  • jobs

    We'll see if they will beat Facebook.

  • Corey Bush

    So I read that if you are under 18 you will be able to use it, but so far that has NOT been the case when I try to make a G+.

  • chanwoman

    I am still unable to get a Google+ account with my google apps email address... ;(((

    This sucks really hard!!!

  • Hans Schmart

    Could be cool when it opens up!

  • samres

    Sari. there is no way out. you search Google, you Gmail Google, you video Google (Youtube). and now you social network Google (G+).
    don't be scared of it, get to know it. there is a benefit.
    all you need to know about G+ in one page:

  • M.a. Boton Rodriguez

    The best social networking ever! Let's goooooooo

  • Samuel Nieves

    Anyone know if google plans to have something for business sites? I don't want to associate my personal/consumer profile +1 button on the site. Hopefully soon?

  • Aamer Ghareeb

    Can't google buy facebook and name it whatever it wants? just like what it did with youtube :)

    • Eliaquim Chinguelessi Tchitalacumbi

      It's a matter of ego. At least I think.

    • Kyndell Leak

      Mark Zukerberg isn't going to allow google to buy it..they've already tried

  • Video Leads Online

    I sure hope that when G+ adds an official way to make a Business Page (instead of a personal page) they don't mess it up like Facebook has. That is one of my biggest issues with FB... the inability to easily make multiple business presence and interact with it without having it related to your Personal space.

  • Benjamin J. Bowman

    You just know "Sketchpad" is going to be ruined as soon as one of your friends starts doodling penises...

  • Ipung Zuhri

    I think Google should stick to what it knows best, SEARCH ENGINE! I'm pretty sure Google+ will die rather soon, just like any other google products; orkut, google aswers, blogspot, etc! Let FB takes over socialmedia!

    • Nik Walborn

      i didn't know blogspot was dead........interesting.

    • Ryan Daws

      Above anything, Healthy Competition never hurt anybody! Think of all the features both Facebook and Google+ have been rolling out to compete with one another = better services for us end-users :)

    • Brett Lockhart

      You've been on Google Plus for an hour and you're an expert on Google and the state of the internet... everyone is an expert.

    • Kris Hudson-Lee

      Blogspot? Dead? Since when?.

      Google+ integrates.
      Facebook just grates.

    • Ben Woods

      Most idiotic statement ever. Facebook datamines you and hands it over to the FBI. Google fights tooth and nail over privacy in the supreme court AND WINS!

    • Mark Chance

      Obviously a mark zukerberg lover... G+ rocks! 25 million users in 12 weeks what took FB over 3 years to get.. .Now facebook is practically copying everything from Google plus and getting it totally wrong at that.

      do us all a favor and stay on Facebook, its a wonder you even switched from Myspace (or do you forget those days)

  • Randy Burleson

    How exactly are you using this for business? conference calls?

    • Jeremy Scott

      Yes. The same way I used to use Skype, only this allows multiple people on one video conference. And it works really well.

  • Sari

    i do not want google plus... how do i get out of it?

  • Merriam Webster

    "Barnstorm"? That word you keep saying -- I don't think it means what you think it means.

  • Anders

    Everyone, except people under 18.

  • Eliaquim Chinguelessi Tchitalacumbi

    Now that's what I was waiting for.

  • Tod

    Still not available for everyone. Google Apps users, or users with 'Google for my domain' still can't use Google+.

    The developers of the dev platform recently said that nobody had logged an issue for it.

    So, someone logged one yesterday. Go star it to show your support:

  • Meno

    this is great. video Hangouts on mobile! now we're talking GOOOGLE PLUSSS. that's a network to enter 2012.

  • Jeremy Scott

    You still can't sign up as a business for Google Plus, but they are working on that. For now, it's just individuals.

  • Kelly

    Does anyone know if google+ can be used for businesses yet? Are the official business profiles available yet? Thanks

  • Edwin Johnson

    It's not exactly open to everyone. People who want to use their Google Apps account instead of a Gmail account have to wait longer.

  • Khurram Javed

    Age Limit still there :S.