Well, it looks like the "field trial" is officially over. Google today announced that its Google+
social network has moved up to beta status and, as a result, it's now open to everyone (no invitation required). It's also rolled out a slew of new features for the occasion, including a number of improvements to the Hangouts video chat service. That includes Hangouts on your phone (Android 2.3+ only, for now), a new Hangouts On Air feature for public broadcasts, and a number of "extras" including screensharing, a sketchpad and shared Google Docs (not to mention Hangouts APIs). Google's now also finally added search functionality across the site, and it's renamed the Huddle group chat feature to Messenger (which also includes a number of new tweaks). Hit the links below for the complete rundown on what's new.