Today Google announced that anyone with a Google Account through work or school can now access the company’s social network Google+.

Google Apps is a hosted service that lets businesses, schools, and other institutions use Google products, including Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Talk, on an unique domain – for example, www.yourcompany.com.

Google+ will automatically create a Circle for your organization so you can share content with all of your co-workers, fellow students, and so on. Google Apps users will also have the same feature functionality as the public version.

Unless your domain is set up to enable new services automatically, the admin of your Google Apps account will have to turn Google+ on manually. Once that’s done, you can sign up for Google+ with your Apps account. The service is rolling out slowly so it might be a few days before you’re able to access the social network.

Additionally Google introduced two new features: “What’s Hot” and Ripples. The former is a new section added to the stream that helps users find out what the most talked about posts on Google+ are. This will appear after your regular updates so it shouldn’t interfere with your current stream of content.

Ripples – a type of analytics service – allows users to see how a post was shared across Google+. Users can now browse through a post’s history through an interactive visualization that will focus on key events, identify top contributors, and more. You can see Ripples in action in the video below.

While brands still don’t have access to Google+, allowing Google Apps users the ability to join is a huge step. Not only can personal brands continue to be built, but the organization itself has greater opportunities for collaboration. A key feature that will probably get more use now is Google Docs in Hangouts – a video chat feature that allows for collaboration on a document.

[Via: SiliconFilter, Image credit: Joe M]