Apple iPad gets dedicated Google+ app with Hangouts

Google also updates iPhone app with Events feature

Google this week pushed out a dedicated Google+ app for the Apple iPad.

With the free app, which was designed specifically for the popular tablet computer, users can access and make changes to their Google+ update streams, profiles, friends Circles and account settings. It also lets people make comments, expand and reshare posts, and upload photos and videos directly from their iPads.

Before the new app was available, iPad users had to use the Google+ iPhone app on their tablets. It worked, but it didn't take advantage of the expanded tablet features. They also could use a mobile version of Google+ in Apple's Safari browser, but that wasn't ideal either.

One feature of the app that's getting a lot of attention is the ability to join a Google+ Hangout with a few friends or a group of users. Google also added the Hangout feature to its Google+ app for the iPhone.

"There's nothing like catching up with friends face to face," wrote Bradley Horowitz, a Google vice president, in a blog post. "Now you can start a video chat with up to nine friends anywhere, anytime with Hangouts on iPhone and iPad."

He added that to get started with a Hangout on an iPad or iPhone, users simply tap Hangout on the main menu, add friends and then tap Start.

"We'll ring their phones (if you want), and if someone misses the hangout, they can ring you back with a single tap," wrote Horowitz.

Also included in the Google+ app for the iPhone is a new feature called Events on Google+. The feature, which was announced late last month at the Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco, is designed to help users set up parties, reunions and other social functions. It includes tools for sending invitations and posting photos during and after the event.

"Post a comment, upload a photo or check out who's going," wrote Horowitz. "Your past event invitations are saved with all the photos and posts shared by your friends, so you can relive the party anytime you want."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or on Google+, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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