Google Hangout
Google brings Hangouts to Android phones

Google+ is now out of beta and no longer invitation-only, with nine new features making "hanging out" and adding friends to circles possible for everyone.

"The Google+ project has been in field trial for just under 90 days, and in that time we've made 91 different improvements," Google said in a blog post. "Google+ is still in its infancy, of course, but we're more excited than ever to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software."

In a blog post on Tuesday the search giant announced the availability of Plus to everyone, as well as nine new features including Hangouts for Android (with an iOS app coming soon) and Hangouts On Air, which lets users record and broadcast their video chats for all to see.

"We're starting with a limited number of broadcasters, but any member of the Google+ community can tune in. In fact, we'll be hosting our very first On Air hangout with on Wednesday night, September 21."

Other improvements to Hangouts this week include 'Hangouts with extras', which includes screen sharing, Sketchpad for sharing photos and doodles with friends, as well as the ability to name hangouts and access Google Docs while video chatting.

Google has now added its search engine to Plus, letting users search for others with similar interests, be it cooking or photography, and incorporates international news with family updates.

For developers interested in creating applications and games for Google+ there are now a set of basic Hangout APIs available. Google said: "If you're a developer who wants to build new kinds of apps and games (and who-knows-what-else), then you can find more details on the Google+ platform blog."

In an attempt to drive traffic to Plus, Google has edited its homepage, adding a blue arrow drawn from the famous logo to the top left, pointing at a link to Google+.

With Facebook announcing a brace of enhancements, and their F8 conference on Thursday promising to reveal major new multimedia features, Google+ will be keen to attract users who may be looking to move away from Mark Zuckerburg's ever-changing network.