Google+ has made three big announcements today. First, the social network has more than 135 million active users. Second, it is rolling out a new Communities feature that will make it easier for groups of people with similar interests to communicate and share. And third, it is bringing SnapSeed, a photo app that integrates with Google+, to Android and making the iOS version free.
In the Official Google Blog, Google's Vic Gundotra announced, "Today Google+ is the fastest-growing network thingy ever. More than 500 million people have upgraded, 235 million are active across Google (+1'ing apps in Google Play, hanging out in Gmail, connecting with friends in Search...), and 135 million are active in just the stream. This enthusiasm, we think, stems from our building tools that build real relationships—in a live hangout, around a breathtaking photo, or with an inner circle of friends. So today we're launching two new improvements that help bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software."
CNET's Casey Newton reported, "Communities offer a straightforward group experience that will be familiar to anyone who has used a Web-based groups product before." However, he added, "Communities bring a couple of Google+ twists to the genre, including the ability to host Hangout video chats with community members and use the Events calendar feature, which beyond basic planning lets attendees share photos from events more easily. An interesting twist in Communities is that users can share links to their groups directly from the Web, using the +1 buttons that are now ubiquitous around the Web. Clicking +1 will bring up a box similar to the one you're used to, but with the added option to share the link with any groups to which you belong."
SlashGear's Chris Davies observed, "With the addition of Google+ Communities, meanwhile, Google may well cut through some of the new-user confusion any social network faces. The Communities will eventually feed into search, meaning they’re likely to be discovered – and participated in – by users seeking out similar topics and themes, such as cookery or cats. Once they start using a Community page, a greater user of Google+ in general is likely."
TechCrunch's Drew Olanoff added, "Snapseed, the app that began on iOS, which allows people to do pretty advanced things to photos with simple gestures, within minutes, has continued its work even after the company, and entire team, was acquired by Google. And yes, that entire Nik Software team is intact at Google as well. Today, Google has launched the long-awaited Android version of Snapseed on Google Play, as well as updated the iOS version, along with making it free. For reference, Snapseed for iOS was $4.99 until right this second."