+Hangouts: more places, more people, more to do
Hangouts uses live video to bring people together, face-to-face-to-face. And from day one, the community has shaped and stretched the feature in amazing ways—from cooking classes togame shows to music concerts. We're determined to keep this momentum going, and to keep providing new ways to communicate in-person, so we hope you enjoy this week's round of Hangouts improvements.
Hangouts on your phone
In life we connect with others in all sorts of places, at all different times. And the connections you make unexpectedly are often the ones you remember the most. We think Hangouts should keep pace with how you socialize in the real-world, so today we're launching it on the one device that's always by your side: your mobile phone. To get started, simply find an active hangout in the Stream, and tap "Join":
Hangouts currently supports Android 2.3+ devices with front-facing cameras (and iOS support is coming soon). The new mobile app is rolling out to Android Market today, so you can start hanging out at any time, from just about anywhere.
Hangouts On Air
Google+ users already use Hangouts to create intimate onscreen experiences—with family members, prayer groups, even people with certain medical conditions. But sometimes you want to speak to a large audience, or alternatively, view as a spectator. In these cases a public broadcast is what's needed, so today we're introducing Hangouts On Air.
The setup is simple enough: just start a normal hangout, and you'll have the option to broadcast and record your session. Once you're "On Air," up to nine others can join your hangout (as usual), and anyone can watch your live broadcast:
We're starting with a limited number of broadcasters, but any member of the Google+ community can tune in. In fact: we'll be hosting our very first On Air hangout with will.i.am on Wednesday night, September 21. For more information visit will.i.am's or my profile on Google+.
Hangouts with extras
Spending time together goes hand in hand with actually doing things together. Dinner with family can easily turn into movie night at the local theater, for instance. And running into old friends can inspire anything from photo sharing to vacation planning. Hangouts has always included a basic set of in-room actions (like group chat and co-viewing of YouTube videos), but we want to make it easier to do a lot more. That's why we're previewing some extras, including:
- 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...)
The extras are still under construction, but we wanted to preview these features and get your feedback sooner versus later. So start a hangout, click "Try Hangouts with extras" in the green room, and let us know what you think.
If field trial has taught us anything about Hangouts, it's that the community is overflowing with creative individuals. So in the wake of last week's Google+ API launch, we're also releasing a basic set of Hangouts APIs. If you're a developer who wants to build new kinds of apps and games (and who-knows-what-else), then you can find more details on the Google+ platform blog.
+Search: find the people and posts you care about
Search in Google+
You've been asking for it, and we've been busy building it, so today we're bringing Google's search expertise to Google+. 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.
If you're into photography, for example, then you'll see other enthusiasts and lots of great pictures. If you care more about cooking, then you'll see other chefs and food from around the globe. In all cases, Google+ search results include items that only you can see, so family updates are just as easy to find as international news.
With more than 1 billion items shared and received every day, we're excited to see how search will connect people through their posts on Google+.
100. Anyone can sign up for Google+—no invitation required.
For the past 12 weeks we've been in field trial, and during that time we've listened and learned a great deal. We're nowhere near done, but with the improvements we've made so far we're ready to move from field trial to beta, and introduce our 100th feature: open signups. This way anyone can visit google.com/+, join the project and connect with the people they care about.
You asked for it
We take your feedback very seriously, and we do our best to deliver your most-requested features as quickly as possible. So today we're launching three more things you've been asking for in Google+ mobile:
- Improved SMS support. Users in the US and India can now post to Google+, receive notifications, and respond to group messages via SMS (with more countries on the way). To start texting, just verify your phone number in Google+ settings.
- Improved +mentions support. To add someone in your circles to a conversation (or simply get their attention), you can now +[their name] inside a post or comment.
- +1'ing comments. When you read a great comment in the Stream, you can now +1 it directly from your iOS device (with Android coming soon).
Giving you more choices
The most important part of Google+ is you, so we want to make sure you have meaningful ways to personalize your experience -- from selecting just the right people to share with, to switching between the app, the web, and SMS as you see fit. Today we're excited to bring three new options to mobile users:
- Edit your profile photo. You can now put your best face forward, from where you happen to be. Just visit your profile, click edit, and you can choose or take a new picture.
- Customize your notifications. Some notifications may be more important than others, especially when you're on the go. Now you can decide which ones you see (or not) on your phone.
- Make some room. If you're taking lots of photos, or installing lots of apps, then internal storage can sometimes shrink. That's why you can now move the Google+ app to SD storage on Android devices.
| Edit your profile photo (left), Notification settings (center), Move to USB (right) |
As we move from limited field trial to open beta, we're renaming Huddle to Messenger. More importantly, we're adding new functionality to Messenger that makes group communication even more fun: photo sharing. So now when you're sitting down for a meal, or kicking back on vacation, you can show your circles what's happening, right this second:
Messenger: Homescreen (left), Choosing a Photo (center), Posting a Photo (right)
We hope you enjoy today's round of Google+ mobile features. There's plenty left for us to do, so we'll keep listening, and working to make your mobile experience that much better. In the meantime, you can try the new app (on Android and the mobile web today, and on iOS soon), and let us know what you think.