In a press release today Google announces the opening of their Google+ social network to the general public. Launched on June 28th, 2011, and formally available by invitation only, Google + has made a decent showing in it’s recent entry to the Social Media space.
Google said in a blog post Tuesday that it will now let anyone sign up for Google Plus. Previously the service was only available by invitation, though it got easier to join in recent weeks.
The company also added a search capability to Google Plus that will let users sift through posts on the site.
Google Plus is the online search leader’s attempt to compete with Facebook, by far the world’s most populous online social network with more than 750 million users. Tuesday’s upgrades come two days ahead of Facebook’s f8 conference in San Francisco, where the company is expected to unveil several new features.
Google also made Plus’s “Hangouts“ feature —which lets users video chat with multiple people at a time— available on smartphones with front-facing cameras. The feature currently works with phones running Google’s Android system. Google says support for Apple devices is coming soon.
A new service called “Hangouts On Air,” meanwhile, lets users broadcast their videos online or view these videos as spectators. Google said it’s starting off with a limited number of broadcasters. Google plans to host its first such hangout with Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am. on Wednesday night.” — Copyright 2011 Associated Press
Wall Street Journal’s Ross Winkler observed that “Celebrities are a key driving force behind social media. Lady Gaga has nearly 14 million followers on Twitter, and 44 million fans on Facebook. Now if the want to “Hangout” with Gaga, they’ll have to be on Google Plus.
So Google + and this Hangout thing sounds pretty cool! We’ll see if it catches on…