Google has announced that Google+ is now open to the public, and to attract users, Google has also added a new set of features, many of them involving Hangouts, the video chat feature.
The network has been in field trial mode for the past 12 weeks. Senior Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundotra says it is now ready to move from field trial to beta.
Even being invitation-only, Google+ attracted 10 million users in the first two weeks.
Of the many new features, the most notable is Hangouts On Air, which will allow the user to broadcast his Google+ Hangouts with an unlimited amount of viewers. It will also be easy to set it up. The normal Hangout will have to be started and then the user will see the option to broadcast or record his Hangout. During Hangout, nine people can interact with the user and anyone else can watch the Hangout live.
Google+ Hangouts is a useful broadcasting tool. The user can record his broadcast and use it later. Anyone can open his Hangout to watch the live broadcast. It doesn’t sound like there’s even any limit to the number of viewers, and On Air is intended to help the user to reach larger audiences.
For the time being, only a limited amount of broadcasters will be able to create Hangouts On Air though anyone with a Google+ account will be able to view the live broadcast.
The user can now use Google+ Hangouts to chat live, on video, from his mobile device. Sadly, it only works on Android 2.3 devices and higher and obviously only on devices with a front-facing camera.
Secondly, Google Docs is now available live over Hangouts, making live, face-to-face collaboration possible on the Web for free.
Google+ is now a platform for collaboration, especially face-to-face, with the features of screensharing and a shared sketchpad along with Docs. With this, Google+ Hangouts will become a natural place for people to work remotely together.
With screensharing, the user will be capable of sharing his screen through Hangouts, whether he is showing viewers a Web site, a document, or whatever else he may have up on screen. The sketchpad is simple drawing tool, which all participants can use at the same time. Also during the creation of the public hangout the user can now give it a custom name centered round the reason or topic for the session.