Google Apps customers can now access social features on the company’s social network, Google+, the company announced today on its Enterprise blog.
Previously, users of Google Apps — the company’s enterprise suite of web-based applications for documents, email and more — were denied access to Google+ features like Circles, profiles and Hangouts because the service was only ready for use by individual accounts. That meant if businesses and colleges wanted to use Google+, they had to use their own personal accounts for access.
“It took more technical work than we expected to bring Google+ to Google Apps, and we thank you for your patience,” said Google Product Manager Ronald Ho in a blog post. “This integration is just the beginning. We’ll continue to add features and improve the way that Google+ works with Google Apps.”
Those with a Google Apps account will need to manually turn on the Google+ integration for their organization. Once that’s done, each user on the account will need to sign up for a new Google+ account to gain access to all the features on the social network.
For anyone who has been using their personal account and would rather switch to the Google Apps account, the company is building a migration tool that will let you merge your accounts together — meaning you won’t have to recreate all your circles or worry about losing all the people who’ve already added you to their own circles. Google said it expects the migration tool to be ready in a few weeks.
Google Apps accounts will essentially have all the same features as the personal accounts. However, the service apparently makes it easier for App account users to share information with each other via circles, even if they haven’t been added to another custom circle, Google said. That makes sense since businesses and other organizations using a Google Apps accounts primarily use it as a tool to connect with their employees, students, or other members.
Another addition Google Apps accounts will have is extra functionality for its Hangouts video chatting service. Google Apps users will now be able to add screen sharing to the multi-person video chat sessions — enabling them to collaborate on Google Docs and work together on projects. (See screenshots below.)
While enabling Google+ for Google Apps customers is certainly a big move for the company, eventually Google plans to bring Google+ functionality to all of its various services (Gmail, search, shopping, etc.).