Google+ has finally opened its doors to Google Apps users. Alongside this much-demanded change, Plus added a photo editing toolkit, a post-sharing visualizer, and the inclusion of a "what's hot" stream.
Google+ for Apps
Those who use a Google Apps account – including members of businesses or colleges that run their email through Apps – can sign up using the standard Google+ signup page. The only requirement is that the administrator of Apps for the domain must have enabled Plus for all users.
Select services integrated into Plus require additional permissions for the account; Google Talk must be enabled for chatting to work, while Picasa is required for photo sharing. This means that employees can't circumvent previous restrictions through the use of Apps.
While many more business- and education-related features are expected in the future, Apps users will have a benefit from the get-go: the option to share a post with any member of the Apps domain.
Knowing that many Apps users already got started on Plus with a separate Gmail account, Google is creating a migration tool that, according to a post on the topic, should be available in the next "few weeks." The migration tool will automatically import your circles, settings, and information, but – more importantly – will cause users who connected to your non-Apps profile to be connected to your Apps profile instead.
Other New Features
The three new features introduced alongside the Plus-for-Apps announcement were "What's Hot," Google +Ripples, and the "Google creative kit."
"What's Hot" is a new stream that highlights the most popular posts on Google+. You can find posts from this stream in your normal stream, directly after your unread posts and updates. Users can also navigate to the "What's Hot" stream using the link of the same name in the left column.
Google Ripples is a visualization tool (demonstrated in the video above) that lets users see how their posts spread and are interacted with. While it's still in its beta form, business users and social media experts are sure to gain a lot of insight from the new data and visualization.
The creative kit is an expanded set of tools for editing photos on Google+. Many features come directly from existing Picasa tools, making Google+ Photos an even more clear successor to Picasa. New options for photo editing include filters, text overlays, and even some limited-edition Halloween adds (such as masks and fangs that can be put on top of an image).
Google+ is faring pretty well, with Google announcing the "over 40 million" figure for total users and Experian-Hitwise showing continued growth in both total and returning visitors to Plus in October. With over 60 million page views in October, Google currently ranks as the 13th most popular site in the "social / forums" category.