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Google+ Invites Enterprise Customers

Office 365 Vs. Google Apps: Top 10 Enterprise Concerns
Office 365 Vs. Google Apps: Top 10 Enterprise Concerns

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Google on Thursday made its Google+ social network available to its enterprise customers, the 4 million or so businesses and schools using Google Apps. The company also released a set of new features to highlight popular public posts, to see who's linking to those posts, and a photo editing toolkit for Google+ photos.

Google+ for Google Apps users is the same as Google+ for everyone else, with the addition of a predefined circle that can be used to share with people in your organization.

Organizations that have not opted to automatically enable new services will have to enable Google+ for their users and make sure their firewall settings allow related services like Hangouts group video chat.

[ Just getting started with Google+? Read 10 Essential Google+ Tips. ]

Hangouts works particularly well with Google+ because it supports screen sharing and collaboration with Docs, making it ideal for distributed work groups. Google connected Docs to Google+ Hangouts in September.

"Whether you're out of town, working on a project with a distributed group, or just don't feel like walking to the next building for your meeting, Hangouts with extras can give your team the productivity boost it needs," said Google product manager Ronald Ho in a blog post.

In conjunction with the launch of Google+ for Google Apps customers, Google says that almost two dozen universities using Google Apps for Education will be joining the 40 million people on Google+. University students represent an important constituency for social networks, as Facebook, which began as a social network for schools, has proven.

Google says it is building a migration tool that will allow Google+ users who created personal profiles to move them to over to organizational Google Apps accounts if desired. The migration tool should be ready in a few weeks, the company says.

Google+ also received some new features: What's Hot, Ripples, and Creative Kit.

What's Hot appears as a selection option below new posts and in the left-hand sidebar. It returns the most popular Google+ posts.

Ripples provides a form of visual analytics: It allows you to see a diagram representing how a selected public post has been shared, with links to those who have shared the post. It's available, or will be soon for those still waiting for the feature update, through the disclosure triangle menu in the upper right-hand corner of Google+ posts.

Finally, Creative Kit expands the basic photo editing capabilities available to those posting pictures through Google+. Users can now add text and graphics to photos and have a wider range of filter effects at their disposal. The technology comes from Picnik, which Google acquired in March 2010.

To show off these new image editing capabilities, Google has added a limited-edition Halloween effects set and is asking Google+ users to share their Halloween-themed altered photos with the hashtag #gplushalloween. Google SVP of social Vic Gundotra says the company plans to enlist a surprise group of celebrities to announce their favorite altered photos on Thursday, November 3.