Google’s social network is leaving their field trial and entering an open beta: nearly anybody can now register. Along with the public release, Google announced the addition of search features to Google+.
Plus is Public, Searchable
Anyone who’s been waiting eagerly to set up a Google+ profile can now do so at plus.google.com, assuming they have a Google profile. (For the time being, that still doesn’t include Google Apps profiles.) Until this time, Plus has been functioning on an invite-only basis, following a release pattern similar to the one established by Gmail.
Looks like Google is borrowing a page from Twitter, using its own version of a "save this search" button. You can sort by "Everything," "People," "Google+ posts" and "Sparks" (which recommends articles, videos, photos, etc., by topic).
Users who register now should also find it easier to connect with others, thanks in large part to the Search features added to the site. Users can search through Plus’s billions of posts, millions of users, and other content from around the web. You can check out how search results (and, perhaps, your profile or company) appear on a de-personalized search at this URL.
While Plus opening its doors to the general public makes it easy to join, the search features make it more worthwhile to do so: Since users will be able to search through people and posts, the site’s power as a networking and information-sharing medium has seen significant growth.
The Future of Plus
The invite-only trial lasted just three months, but in that time Google has made more than 100 improvements. More importantly, they set the record as the fastest growing site of all time, attracting more than 25 million unique visits in its first 21 days.
But how many users are there today? While Google won’t release official numbers, Tech Timely suggests a method for determining the current number of active users. According to their analysis, there are roughly 20.9 million active users as of Google+ officially entering open beta. It will be interesting to see how much of a user surge, if any, there is now that anyone can register.
You're Invited to Join Google+
To draw attention to the wide release, today Google used their home page to encourage its huge user base to sign up for Google+. A large blue arrow promoting the Google+ service urged searchers, upon mousing over the arrow, "You're invited to join Google+" Additionally, under the search box, Google added the message, "Thanks for waiting. Google+ is open to all! Join now."
A bit pushy, but it did serve the purpose of notifying everyone of the ability to sign up.
Google also announced new features for Google+ Hangouts.