Google is shipping more Google+ features today designed to increase user engagement and sharing. These include a YouTube slider that lets you watch and share YouTube videos with your Google+ friends and two new Google Chrome extensions for sharing webpages and tracking your Google+ notifications.
The YouTube slider is a button that appears on the right-side of the Google+ homepage, that, when clicked, slides out to reveal a YouTube search box asking you “What do you want to play?”
When you type in a search and hit enter, a pop-up window appears which is somewhat like a scaled-down version of the YouTube website featuring the video and a playlist of videos matching your search term. As you watch the videos, a “+1 button” at the top of the video lets you perform the Google equivalent of the Facebook “like,” while a prominent green “Share” button lets you post the video to your Google+ profile.
Pop-up windows aren’t the most elegant integration for this new functionality, but it gets the job done.
The new YouTube feature also lets your Google+ friends open a related playlist directly from the video post you shared on the network (via a blue button beneath the update). This is actually kind of great for things like music videos, as indicated by the example below.
YouTube is now being indexed in Google+ search results, too.
The other new additions today are two Google Chrome extensions, whose functionality has been provided by third-parties for some time. The “+1″ extension lets you click a browser toolbar button to like page and share it on Google+. Meanwhile, the Notifications extension displays the Google+ red notifications box indicating new activity (new followers, pluses and comments) on the social network.
Heavy Google+ users probably already had something similar installed, but now there are official versions.
Given Google’s overwhelming obsession with getting into social this year, it’s sort of surprising that it didn’t just bundle these extensions with an update to the Google Chrome browser in order to force Google+ down Google users’ throats the way it did with Google Reader’s latest update (yes, I’m still bitter about that). Maybe that integration is still to come.