Today Google announced that its social platform Google+ is now fully open to the public – no invitation is required to join.

Google+ has been live for just under three months, but it has already undergone 91 different improvements. Today that changed to 100 as Google revealed nine more updates to its Hangouts feature.

Google Hangouts connects people through live videos. The feature allows you to interact with multiple people from across the world. In an effort to keep up with real-world socializing Google has added hangout functionality to your mobile phone. To get started all you have to do is find an active hangout in the Stream and tap “join.”

The new mobile app is rolling out today and will support Android 2.3+ devices with front-facing cameras – iOS support is coming soon.

Hangouts have proven valuable for smaller groups, but sometimes you need to reach a larger audience. Hangouts On Air enables you to broadcast a live session. Up to nine others can join your hangout, and anyone can watch your public broadcast. Google is limiting the number of broadcasters during rollout, but the Google+ community can still tune in.

Google+ has also added a number of new tools – called extras – that you can use within your hangout. Screensharing allows you to share whatever is on your screen and Google Docs is available for when you want to write or present something, both of which could be beneficial for webinars. The Sketchpad is for when you and your friends want to draw or doodle during a hangout. Named Hangouts let you create a public hangouts about certain topics, such as music or sports.


The extras are still under construction, but you can preview the new features by clicking “Try Hangouts with extras” when you start a hangout.

Another new feature worth noting is Search in Google+. Just type what you’re looking for into the Google+ search box and it will help you discover relevant people, posts, and popular content from the around the web.

Google plans on rolling out these new features over the next couple of days. You can learn more about these updates by visiting Google’s blog.

[Image credit: Robert Couse-Baker]