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Google+ starts to deliver for businesses

The social network is making its way slowly but surely into the Google Apps enterprise portfolio, kicking off with a trio of features.

Google Plus Hangout with document
Google is now letting users work on a document face-to-face in a Google+ hangout.

Some Google Apps customers have had a chance to play around with Google+ on their work accounts, but Google is taking its first big step towards making the social networking platform fully available for enterprise users.

Clay Bavor, director of product management for Google Apps, said via telephone yesterday that Google Apps has always been about collaboration.

"So when we launched Google Plus, immediately we started thinking about how to bring it to Google Apps customers," Bavor continued.

Bavor explained that the path to bring Google+ to Google Apps has followed suit of other Google products by launching the consumer version first and then tacking on enterprise-grade features and controls.

Still, Bavor acknowledged that some Google+ users were already using their personal accounts for work-related purposes. He added that at Google, his team uses the product internally to share and do video conferences, changing "the way we work."

Based on "top pieces of feedback from customers," here are the three Google+ features rolling out for Google Apps customers immediately:

  • Private sharing (or restricted posts): Users can share items selectively within Google+ Circles as well as restrict it to internal-only mode so it can't be re-shared outside the organization. This should provide the flexibility to share content with an advertiser or external agency, or just with other team members.
  • Deeper integration of Google+ Hangouts across Google Apps: Building upon integration within Gmail and Google Docs with Hangouts, the third integration is with Google Calendar. This should enable the creator of the event to add a hangout to an event and everyone can join within one click.
  • Controls for Google Apps administrators: An example includes being able to set sharing defaults for posts for different teams, etc.

These features are launching today, rolling out throughout the course of the day to Google Apps users. Bavor pointed out that these are "essentially as a preview of what's to come," so we should be seeing more features added for enterprise accounts in the future.

Google+ will be included as a part of the Google Apps product set through 2013. After that, Google Apps product managers will evaluate how the social network will be included from there.

This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Google+ makes first major push onto Google Apps."