Google+ adds search (finally); now anyone can join

Additions come as critics continue to paint a bleak picture of its future

You can finally do on Google's fledgling social network that which made the company both a household name and a common verb: search. (Why it took so long may forever remain a mystery.)

In addition, the you in that first sentence means all of you, as it is no longer necessary to receive an invitation before opening an account on Google+ (same mystery).

Google made both announcements and introduced a handful of other Google+ improvements in a blog post this morning.

Regarding the new search capability, the company says:

You've been asking for it, and we've been busy building it, so today we're bringing Google's search expertise to Google+. Just type what you're looking for into the Google+ search box, and we'll return relevant people and posts, as well as popular content from around the web.

If you're into photography, for example, then you'll see other enthusiasts and lots of great pictures. If you care more about cooking, then you'll see other chefs and food from around the globe. In all cases, Google+ search results include items that only you can see, so family updates are just as easy to find as international news.

Google+ early adopters (including this one) have expressed great frustration over the difficulties created by the lack of a search function.  

In addition, Google+ has now swung its doors open to all comers. From that blog post:

Anyone can sign up for Google+ - no invitation required.

For the past 12 weeks we've been in field trial, and during that time we've listened and learned a great deal. We're nowhere near done, but with the improvements we've made so far we're ready to move from field trial to beta, and introduce our 100th feature: open signups. This way anyone can visit, join the project and connect with the people they care about.

These welcome developments come amid a growing chorus of punditry that paints Google+ as already having failed. (And it doesn't help when your CEO helps fuel that fire.)

In my opinion, these obituaries are premature, as Google possesses enormous resources with which to promote Google+ and has far too much hanging in the balance to let it fail quickly.

That doesn't mean that failure isn't an option.

(Update: Danny Sullivan digs into the details of the new search capabilities in a post at Search Engine Land.) 

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