Businesses that use Google Apps received some potentially good news this week. The company announced that it has started testing some new enterprise social networking features for Google+, including some elements that would allow easier collaboration for users of Google Apps.
The public preview of the Google+ enterprise version includes workplace-specific features like more controls over sharing and privacy, improved administration controls, added support for video, and integrations with other products like Google Calendar.
The aim behind all of these features is to make communication between employees and business professional easier.
More specifically, business owners can use the new features to configure Google+ for their employees, restrict the sharing of posts between a company’s employees and its full network, launch Google Hangout meetings directly from apps like Gmail, and even edit documents together within a Hangout.
Businesses and organizations that use Google products can use the new business features of Google+ for free through the end of 2013. No details on pricing have been released for after that time period, but that statement does hint that Google plans to charge for the enterprise features in the future.
Google Apps, the online document, calendar, and spreadsheet service, is already used by many businesses. There is also a free version of Google Apps for consumer use.
Google+ was launched in 2011 as a consumer social networking site. The company hinted last year that it would eventually launch a workplace version. The site itself does already offer a few features that could be used for networking or promotional purposes for businesses, but until now it didn’t have anything specifically to address corporate needs.
But as with most Google products, the company has continually changed things up to make services tailored for different groups and needs.
In the future, Google plans to add more features like a mobile version of Google+’s enterprise social network and more IT administration features, and then possibly a full distinct enterprise offering by 2014.