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Google+ making some changes

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As Google’s latest attempt at social networking opens up to the public, Google+ revealed a couple of changes that they have implemented since the project came out of beta testing this week. The social media website was greeted with a lot of excitement when it launched a couple of months ago, but has since failed to make any real impact.

Google+ is making some changes (image: Google)

Vic Gundotra, Senior Vice President of Engineering for Google revealed that the company had made around 91 changes to the way Google+ operates in the 90 days that it has been available for use. “Google+ is still in its infancy, of course, but we’re more excited than ever to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software. Today we’re releasing nine more features that get us that much closer,” he said in a blog post.


One of the major improvements to Google+, is that it’s now open to everyone and no invitations are required anymore. “We’re nowhere near done, but with the improvements we’ve made so far we’re ready to move from field trial to beta”.

But it seems as though the biggest part of the current batch of improvements come in the form of Hangouts, where friends can start a chat room of sorts.

Hangouts can now be joined and created from smartphones through the new Google+ Android app, while an iOS version will be released a bit later. Hangouts currently support Android 2.3+ devices with front-facing cameras, so you can start hanging out at any time, from just about anywhere,” Gundotra said.

Google is also making public broadcasting easier with Hangouts On Air. “Sometimes you want to speak to a large audience, or alternatively, view as a spectator. In these cases a public broadcast is what’s needed, so today we’re introducing Hangouts On Air. Once you’re “On Air,” up to nine others can join your hangout (as usual), and anyone can watch your live broadcast”.

Google+ also added a couple of extras to the Hangouts, but these are still in a limited trial period and under construction. Some of them include:

* Screensharing: for when you want show off your vacation photos, your high score, your lesson plan or whatever else is on your screen

* Sketchpad: for when you want to draw, doodle, or just scribble together

* Google Docs: for when you want to write, plan or present something with others

Google will also be making use of it’s search engine capabilities in the social space, as users will be able to search for anything on Google+. “Today we’re bringing Google’s search expertise to Google+. Just type what you’re looking for into the Google+ search box, and we’ll return relevant people and posts, as well as popular content from around the web.”

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor

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