Google+ has been around for almost 3 months now. The Search Giant’s exciting new social network has been great since the beginning, but there are definitely features we’ve been asking for or complaining about. There’s always room for improvement, and the development team has been working hard on that. Today, Google announced 16 new features (upgrades 92-107) covering some of the main user requests.
Mobile Hangouts and open sign ups are the two main features on the list. The need to use a PC for joining Hangouts has been one of the most frustrating things since the release of Google+. We kept asking for mobile access to Hangouts, and the feature has finally arrived.
Features 92-100 will be rolling out throughout the day, while the rest will be coming in the near future. Let’s take a closer look at these to see what the Google+ team has been working on:
92: Mobile Hangouts
This is the first, and one of the most important, of the features. There is one catch, though. This is only available for Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and above. This is not a small percentage of the Android user population, but there are still many of you rocking Android 2.2 Froyo.
Those with Gingerbread and above can simply press the “Start Hangout” buttons on your Google+ stream to get in on the action.
93: Hangouts “On Air”
Hangouts are fun, but they’re still limited to 10 users at a time. Those who want to reach the masses can now use Hangouts On Air. This has the same concept as a Hangout, but your video conference will be broadcasted and recorded for everyone else to take a look at. Upon starting a Hangout, the user will be able to go “On Air,” and the magic simply happens.
94-97: More treats for Hangouts
These are extra features you can use during Hangouts for sharing. (Much like the YouTube tab). Now you can share more things with your friends using the following features:
- Screensharing: Show off your vacation photos, your high score, your lesson plan or whatever else is on your screen.
- Sketchpad: Draw, doodle or just scribble together.
- Google Docs: Write, plan or present something with others.
- Named Hangouts: Join or create a public Hangout about a certain topic (fashion, music, sports, etc.).
98: Hangout API available for developers
If you’re a developer and want to let your creative side flow, you can now take the API and create your own apps. The possibilities seem endless, so if you want to play around with this, have at it! Grab it from the Google+ Platform Blog.
99: Search Google+
Google is known as the “Search Giant,” but until now we were unable to search the Google+ platform. Now, users can simply type key words into the search box, and relevant people and material will be shown in your stream. Good for finding users and/or posts about your personal interests!
100: Open sign ups
Remember when getting into Google+ was quite the privilege? We were a small community of mostly tech enthusiasts. While this has changed in time, and it is much easier to get an invitation, you still need your friends to press that “Send” button to get in on the action.
Those days are over. Everyone can be part of the Google+ movement now.
101-103: Google+ Mobile improvements
The Google+ app is missing various features available in the browser version. Now you can use the +name feature to mention a person. Android users will also soon be able to +1 comments. (iOS got it first?!)
But the most important improvement is SMS support. Yes, users can now use SMS to post, receive notifications and respond to group messages in Google+. This is quite exciting if you happen to not own a smartphone (or if you simply do not like the app or mobile browser platforms).
- Improved SMS support. Users in the US and India can now post to Google+, receive notifications and respond to group messages via SMS (with more countries on the way). To start texting, just verify your phone number in your Google+ settings.
- Improved +mentions support. To add someone in your circles to a conversation (or simply get their attention), you can now +[their name] inside a post or comment.
- +1’ing comments. When you read a great comment in the Stream, you can now +1 it directly from your iOS device (Android coming soon).
Android fans love choices, and that’s what this section is all about.
- Edit your profile photo. You can now put your best face forward from wherever you happen to be. Just visit your profile, click edit and choose or take a new picture.
- Customize your notifications. Some notifications may be more important than others, especially when you’re on the go. Now you can decide which ones you see (or don’t see) on your phone.
- Make some room. If you’re taking lots of photos or installing lots of apps, then internal storage can sometimes shrink. That’s why you can now move the Google+ app to SD storage on Android devices.
107: No more Huddles
Before you freak out, Google is simply changing the name and adding some more features. Huddles will still exist, but in another form. This feature will now be called Google+ Messenger, and will actually support image sharing. Everything else should stay the same, so this is simply an upgrade with a name change.
Google+ has just gotten much better, and we definitely can’t wait to try out the new features. Google+ is still a very young social network, though, and there’s always room for improvement. You can count on the Google team working hard to make things better in the future, so keep on sending them feedback! If you’d like to see the full list of upgrades, click here.
So get ready for this new batch of features, because they’ll be rolling out anytime now. Which features are you guys most excited about? Personally, Mobile Hangouts and Messenger photo sharing sound the best to me. Let us know what you think. Are there any features you’re still waiting for?