Update: Google Plus is no longer in Beta.
It took Google some time to open their social network service Google Plus to the public. Up until now it was only possible to join the service after receiving an invite, or by accessing the site when Google removed the invite-limitation temporarily.
Google today over at the official Google Blog announced that Google+ is now available for everyone which means that anyone can sign up for Google+ without invitation. This step marks the transition from field trial to beta.
Google notes on the sign up page that Google+ is in Beta, which means that users may run into technical issues and other problems on the site during that time.
The very same blog post announced a slew of new and improved features. This includes hangouts on the phone. Users who connect to Google Plus via their phone can now join Hangouts just like desktop users can.
Hangouts are currently only supported on Android 2.3 and higher devices with front facing cameras. Google notes that iOS support will come soon.
Hangouts on Air is another new feature which allows Google Plus users to record a session. This session can then be watched by anyone. Hangouts got additional extras, including screensharing, a sketchpad, Google Docs support and an option to create named hangouts. Google last week launched the Google+ Api that allows developers to create services and features around the social networking site. Today, Google is releasing an api specifically for Hangouts. Developers find more information about the available Apis over at the Google+ Platform blog.
More interesting to the majority of Google+ users is the improved Search on Google+. The search is now finding relevant people and posts, and "popular content from the web". Considering that search is one option to find people on the site (the other options are to add them via your Google Contacts database or by adding people who post in streams directly).
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.