Google+ Opens Door to Public, Invitation No Longer Needed to Join

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By Vittorio Hernandez | September 21, 2011 11:08 AM EST

The two technology giants, Google and Facebook, upped their ante this week as they battle for supremacy in the cyberworld.

Google, to gain more members in its new social networking site Google+, no longer requires an invitation to join by opening the portal to the general public.

"For the past 12 weeks we've been in field trials, and during that time we've listened and learned a great deal.... We're nowhere near done, but with the improvements, we're made so far we're ready to move from field trial to beta. Anyone can visit google.com/+, join the project and connect with the people they care about," Computerworld quoted the blog post of Google Senior Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundotra.

The move is seen as Google's attempt to catch up on numbers with Facebook, the number one social networking site, whose members had breached 750 million worldwide. However, Google has a lot of catching up to do based on analysts' estimate that Google+ has about 25 million members now.

Facebook, to ensure it is several steps ahead of Google, introduced over the past few weeks improvements that matched the features of Google+. These includes activation of member's subgroups of friends that would make it easier to receive newsfeeds based on certain criteria such as being workmates, schoolmates or relatives of a Facebook member.

It attempts to match Google+'s Circles feature.

Facebook also increased the size of pictures that show up in the member's news feed and introduced a new ticker on user's home pages that provide real-time notification of what their friends are doing.

Google+ also allowed members to participate in video-chat through the Hangouts feature in which members could use their camera-enabled smartphones or tablet computers.

Members could also broadcast video presentations to groups by using the site's Hangouts on Air feature. Black Eyed Peas front man, will.i.am, will host the first Hangout on Air on Wednesday, according to Google.

"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," Mr Gundotra wrote.

Google+ new members include Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg.

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