Google+ hits public beta


Google's latest attempt at social networking has gone into public beta, three months after being announced.

To mark the public availability of Google+ the company announced a range of extra features, including a number of improvements to video calling tool +Hangouts.

Mobile functionality has been added, so users running Android 2.3 or above will be able to use the feature when on the move.

We're nowhere near done, but with the improvements we've made so far we're ready to move from field trial to beta.

Google Docs integration and screensharing have been added, whilst Hangouts APIs have been introduced for developers to build apps for the communications platform.

It follows on from the announcement of general Google+ APIs.

"For the past 12 weeks we've been in field trial, and during that time we've listened and learned a great deal," said Vic Gundotra, Google's senior vice president of engineering, in a blog post.

"We're nowhere near done, but with the improvements we've made so far we're ready to move from field trial to beta."

Google has also brought its search expertise into its social network.

"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," Gundotra added.

Google is to open a bespoke enterprise Google+ experience in the coming months. The testing phase is currently underway.

The internet giant had deleted company profiles from the consumer service as it sought to establish a real-name culture on the site.

Ovum principal analyst Eden Zoller said Google would have to prove itself in the social networking space against chief rival Facebook.

"The biggest challenge for Google is how it can differentiate its social network against Facebook," Zoller said.

"Google needs to show people that it is more than a Facebook clone and can offer features that are unique or do things better than Facebook. This won't be easy as Facebook is quick to introduce new features and has had the benefit of being able to watch the trial of Google + prior to its beta launch this week."

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.