Google+ Now Open To All, With a Ton of New Features

Google Plus LogoI woke up this morning to a perfect storm of Google+ announcements. Firstly, the big news – Google+ is now available to anyone with a Google account. No invite required. This is great news, as it lowers the barrier to entry significantly. I can now invite all my friends to join, and they can invite their friends, etc. Unfortunately it also means my Google+ Invites app (a.k.a. Social Invites Plus) is now entirely obsolete. Well, that was fun while it lasted 🙂

But that’s not the only Google+ news. In the same blog post Google announced a bunch of new Hangout features, including mobile video & publicly broadcast streams. Also, you’ll now be able to share your screen and/or Google Docs with Hangout participants (which puts Google+ squarely in the business arena). And we finally have the ability to search Google+! This has probably been the most requested feature, and the ability to search posts as well as people makes the service far more useful.

And just in case you weren’t impressed with those features – Google published another blog post a few minutes later announcing features 101 through 107. This includes a slew of mobile features, such as +mentions, the ability to +1 comments, and change your profile picture all from the mobile app. These are more incremental updates, but it’s great to see Google actively pushing development like this, and responding to the small features that people have been asking for. I don’t know any other Google product which has had so many feature updates in such a short period of time. Hopefully they continue to keep up the good work. I believe Google+ has huge potential, and it’s by far the most promising social service from Google yet.

Something interesting to note (in case you thought this post wasn’t related to Android development :-P), Google seems to be having difficulty synchronizing feature releases between their Android and iOS apps. This stands to reason – Apple requires approval for updates in the App Store, while Google would have no delays releasing an app on the Android Market. But this is a significant area of concern for many developers. The more app stores you distribute to, the harder it becomes to keep them all up to date. The code base will differ between stores; content policy differs; and even product packaging has to be done differently. It’s worth taking note – Google doesn’t have it any easier.

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