After around three months in a rather broad private beta, Google+ steps up a notch with a new public beta, open to all comers that offers new features including search, wider hangouts and improved smartphone support.

No More Plus One

Google+ has spent three months in a semi-private beta with users able to invite a few friends over to join the club. That ends today as those without invites will find the '+You' button in the corner of any Google page. A quick sign up later (with your real name) and you can join in the fun of circles, hangouts, video chat and more.

People already in the Google+ club can invite up to 150 friends to join in. While there was early criticism of not much to see or do, Google has made a steady stream of fixes and upgrades, and must now consider the project ready for prime time, even if it remains in beta.

Improvements to the service in the latest upgrade include an internal Google+ search so you can better find friends and content. The smartphone offerings have been bolstered with improved Hangout features, current for Android 2.3 users and soon for iOS.

Looking Up

For a start, there's broadcasting which allows people to tune into a Hangout to see what's going on, even if it has hit maximum capacity. In the back-end there are improvements in stability and quality of broadcast.

PC users can now share whiteboards in Google Docs with their friends to help aid collaboration efforts. Google has also released the public APIs so developers can start building with the service. Soon we could see the types of apps and diversions that made Facebook such a hit, will the days of 'poking' people come back to haunt Google, or will developers come up with new creative ideas?

So, if you haven't already, leap into the world of Google+ with its social circles, sparks of web pages and other ideas. Is it enough to revolutionize your social space? Let us know.