As Google+ moves into open beta and anyone can join the network, a slew of new features are rolling out, with Google and Facebook fighting it out to dominate the social media space.
A round-up of the most recent changes:
- Users no longer need an invite to join.
- Google added new Search features and a “Save this search” button.
- Hangouts got a makeover, with several new features and a mobile launch.
- Users in the U.S. and India with verified phone numbers can now respond to group messages, receive notifications, and post updates via SMS.
- iOS device users can +1 comments on the go, with Android support coming soon.
- Mobile users can edit profile photos, customize notifications, and store the Google+ app in SD storage (Android only).
Oddly, Google has chosen to rename their mobile group chat; Huddle shall, from this day forward, be known as Messenger. We touched lightly on the recent name-poaching trend among tech giants the other day, when news of Google’s Propeller leaked. Not that anyone is keeping track, but Google’s Messenger name change (hello, MSN!) is at least the fourth time they’ve taken the page out of someone else’s book – Propeller (AOL), Buzz (Yahoo), and Places (Foursquare).
User reaction in comments on Google’s blog post was swift, with many Google Apps users frustrated that a public release moved forward without the long-awaited Google Apps support. While Google says they’re working hard to bring the features of Google+ to Apps users, it seems that those who registered for the social networking service with their Apps account email address unknowingly created what Google is now calling a ”conflicting account.”
Apps users, many of whom are paying customers, understandably feel slighted and some took to Twitter to express their disappointment:
Other users wondered whether Huddle might be integrated with GTalk at some point. Some reported that the update hadn’t gone live in the Android market.
As Google+ and Facebook continue to roll out new features almost faster than users can keep up, communication and support are becoming more important than ever. If social networks continue to mimic each other and become more and more similar, they will need to find some point of differentiation and be careful not to alienate users to survive.