Google+ Hits Beta With 9 New Features Including Search, Mobile Hangouts, And Open Signups

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In the roughly 90 days that Google+ has been available, Google says that they’ve made 91 different improvements to the service. Today brings nine more — a few of which are big.

First and foremost, Google+ finally has search. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe that a service built by Google launched without it, but it did. Now Google+ allows you to search for people and posts simply by using the search box at the top. Of note, you can filter results by either “Best of” or “Most recent”. This also allows you to search the Sparks feature, which is still underdeveloped.

The other big news: Google+ is moving from “field trial” to”beta”. Along with this upgrade, Google is opening signups for anyone.

Finally, Google has rolled out a ton of new features for Hangouts, the live multi-user video chat service that has been an early hit on Google+. Of the changes, the biggest is the ability to do a Hangout from a mobile device. Google has updated the Google+ Android app with this functionality, and says an update to the iOS app will be coming soon.

Another new feature is the ability to go “on air” — essentially a fully public broadcast. When you do this, up to nine other people can still join your broadcast, and anyone can watch. Google notes that the feature will be limited to certain broadcasters (read: big ones). They’re kicking it off tomorrow night with an On Air Hangout with will.i.am.

Google has also started adding “extras” to Hangouts. The first ones:

  • Screensharing: for when you want to 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
  • Named Hangouts: for when you want to join or create a public hangout about a certain topic (like fashion or music or sports…)

Google notes that these extras are still under construction (read: beta beta).

Finally, Google is also releasing an API for Hangouts. This follows the broader (but limited) Google+ API roll out last week.

I’m sure all of these changes rolling out two days before Facebook’s big f8 conference are coincidental. War.