Just as some were speculating that Google's invite-only signup system for their latest social networking venture would be its eventual downfall, the Google Mobile blog announced that Google+ is transitioning into beta, bringing open signups with it.

That isn't the only change Google has cooked up, though. Google+ has been updated with a host of new features in an effort by Google to show how fast they can implement users' "most requested features."

Perhaps the most exciting change to Google+ is the addition of Hangouts to the mobile app with the v1.07 update. This means you can execute group video chats from just about anywhere, using a clean, simple interface similar to the Google+ online interface.

Screen shot 2011-09-20 at 9.28.02 AM

Additionally, Huddle is now called Messenger, and users can now expect improved reliability and photo sharing options while chatting with friends. Users can also change their profile picture on the go by uploading an image or taking a photo on the spot.

The update also brings some minor tweaks such as improved video playback and public search, the ability to transfer the app to your SD card, notification tweaks, and the ability to long press posts in the stream to +1, share, or mute.

This is by all means a huge update, and Google Mobile assures us they are nowhere near done implementing improvements to Google+ or its mobile app. If you haven't already, head to the market and grab the update.

What's in this version:

  1. Join Hangouts from the mobile app
  2. Set profile photo
  3. Huddle is now Messenger
  4. Send photos in Messenger
  5. Reliability improvements in Messenger
  6. Long press on posts in stream to +1, share and mute
  7. Improved video playback support
  8. Improved public search for people
  9. Granular push notification settings
  10. Move app to your SD card
  11. Improved +mention support

Source: Google Mobile Blog

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • adam

    still cant initiate a hangout from mobile. can only join currently running hangouts :(

    • Brian G

      Can't Hangout without a front facing camera which sucks.

  • Erik I Graul

    Can the website and the mobile app work togather?... Meaning if im on my computer and there on there phone we can talk to each other???

    • http://www.liamspradlin.com Liam Spradlin

      To my understanding, if the person on their computer initiates a hangout, anyone - including mobile users - can join.

      • Brian G

        Users without a front facing camera can't hangout it looks like.

    • Chris

      there and they're and their and thurr

  • David Ruddock

    The way I read this is, regardless of whether or not Google+ is actually ready for public consumption, is that the project has started to asphyxiate already, and Google is basically being forced into opening up G+ to keep it from being totally DOA.

    There's nowhere near the activity on Google+ that there was 2 months ago - most accounts are barren and lay unused. Those users aren't coming back any time soon, and they were Google's best bet at hyping up G+. Without deeper integration into the Google Account and major revisions to the feed and circle system that make managing them more automated, I feel like Google Plus is probably doomed to live out a long, obscure life.

    Whenever I go on Google+, I feel like it's mob rule - the Wild West of social networking. Google expects the Plus project to grow and shape itself organically, and I think that's totally the wrong approach.

    When I'm on Facebook, I feel like I'm participating or listening in on a "gossip circle" among friends and acquaintances. When I'm on Twitter, I feel like I'm reading and writing a personal micro-news column - it's more about consuming than producing material.

    When I'm on Google Plus, I feel like I'm in a crowded mall and everyone is yelling their thoughts aloud. It's annoying and difficult to make sense of, and discouraging. I care nothing about anyone's Google+ posts but my own, and the response they elicit. I have never looked at my "Incoming" circle. G+ is one big popularity contest, like some giant high school, and without some discipline this thing is headed straight into the mud.

    • Denny

      Couldn't agree more. IMO, I feel they should have opened this thing up from the very beginning. Now nearly half the user base has already left. Is it too little, too late? Only time will tell. Personally, I will keep using G+ only because I want to see Facebook go down. Can't stand that site anymore.

  • dedalmapeti

    No idea how to start hangout. Any suggestions? I do not see something called hangout in my app.

  • Neil

    I couldn't get it to work on my EVO. It says that I need a Front Facing Camera in the Google+ hangout window. I could not find a way to make it work.......
    I just created another User account on my PC, then added some friends, and started a Hangout..... Like I said, I could see the hangout on my phone, but I couldn't get video.

    • Alex

      It seems that the hangouts are not working on several rom's if your rooted (cm & salvagemod). Flashed stock and worked. :(

  • http://seanslater.com Sean

    Still waiting for Google Apps accounts support..

  • vernon

    cant change my profile pic..im on cm....

  • meowww

    Doesn't seem to work for HTC Wildfire anymore :(

  • vibrant, boo

    I just got an error saying that you have to have be on 2.3 to use hangouts. For those of us stuck in Froyo land, that sucks. I guess i'll have to flash a rom based on 2.3 and give it a try.

  • Brian G

    And you have to have a front facing camera as well.