Google+ is now open for teens

In move that we’ve anticipated for a while, Google+ is now open to everyone 13 and over, rather than the 18 and over policy they’ve had until this point.  Specifically, Google+ is now available to anyone that is old enough to have a Google Account, which is 13+ in most countries.

Personally, I like the move.  While teens will likely bring a lot of content that I’m not interested in, that’s not a problem thanks to the circling model; I just won’t circle anyone who posts content that I don’t care to see.  In the long run this should help the growth of the service, which is good for all of us.

For more, check out the post from Bradley Horowitz introducing the change.

What do you think of it?

Google+ now supports nicknames

In a lengthy post today on Google+, Bradley Horowitz unveiled another tweak to Google’s name policy — nicknames are now allowed, as long as they’re with your full name.  In other words, you still can’t (yet) become anonymous, but it’s easier to share your unique online nicknames with other Google+ users.

Over the next week, we’ll be adding support for alternate names – be they nicknames, maiden names, or names in another script – alongside your common name. This name will show up on your Google+ profile and in the hovercards which appear over your name. In the next few weeks, we’ll be displaying it more broadly as part of your name in other areas of Google+ as well. So if you’re Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jane Doe (Smith), or Saurabh Sharma (सौरभ शर्मा), you can now communicate your identity the way you want to.

To add an alternate name, go to your Google+ profile, click Edit Profile, select your name and click on “More options.” (See attached photos)

It’s important to remember that when you change your name in Google+, you’re changing it across all services that require a Google Profile.

This will be rolling out over the next few days.  They still need a way to support people that wish to remain anonymous online, but this seems like a step in the right direction.

Google+ reaches 90 million users

Google+ now has 90 million users, according to a statement that Google released today:

Google had a really strong quarter ending a great year. Full year revenue was up 29%, and our quarterly revenue blew past the $10 billion mark for the first time,” said Larry Page, CEO of Google. “I am super excited about the growth of Android, Gmail, and Google+, which now has 90 million users globally – well over double what I announced just three months ago. By building a meaningful relationship with our users through Google+ we will create amazing experiences across our services. I’m very excited about what we can do in 2012 – there are tremendous opportunities to help users and grow our business.

Congrats to the Google+ team!

Lady Gaga joins Google+

Probably influenced by the big changes Google has made to the search results in the past week, +Lady Gaga has joined Google+.  Whether you care for her music or not isn’t the main story here — simply the fact she joined is a good sign for the network.  I’m guessing she wasn’t a big fan of Britney Spears and Snoop Dogg showing up for “music” searches on Google.

As of now she only has about 14,000 followers, putting her well behind Britney and her 1.4 million.  Still, I expect she’ll gain ground quickly.

Now, when will we see Justin Bieber?

Google+ will allow pseudonyms in the future

While it may be a few months away, Google is working on a way to allow pseudonyms in Google+, which is a move that many people are happy to see.

However, Google’s Vic Gundotra said that they’re still working on how exactly to handle the situation, and it appears it’ll be a few months before the new feature goes live.  Google now admits that there are legitimate reasons that people might want to use alternate names, so they’re going to make it happen.  Better late than never, right?

Google now starting to “verify” profiles in Google+

Check another “to do” off of Google’s list — you can now see some “verified” profiles in Google+.

This has been an issue since early on; tons of profiles with famous names (try searching for Taylor Swift), but only one (if any) was the real person.  Now that’s been resolved. When you find her real profile, you’ll see a gray checkmark next to her name, which reveals the words “verified name” when you hover over it.

Here’s how it works:

For now, you can’t request that Google verify your profile; they’re simply looking for celebrities and public figures, and those with thousands of people following them, and verifying their identities.

Nice tweak!

Tagging people in Google+

Most users know that you can press the (+) key to tag someone in Google+.  The problem is that many times the list can’t find the right person because there are too many to show.  It starts by filtering those that are in your circles, but if you’re trying to find the “John Smith” that just left a comment, good luck.

Fortunately, there are a few solutions.

Replies and More

There is a nice Google Chrome extension called “Replies and more for Google+“.  It adds a “reply” link next to each comment, so you can just click that and the user will be tagged in the reply box for you.  It’s very handy.

Tagging via URL

The other solution comes from Google+ user Manuel Viet, who shared this post:

A solution to tag people the system will stubbornly refuse to show you in the search box.

How many times has this happened to you ? You want to tag someone, type the ‘+’ and begin spelling the name you know exists at excruciatingly slow speed to let the search system catch up. But to no avail : at a point, you don’t find the person and you seemingly can’t tag her.

There’s a convoluted solution to this. All you have to do is open that person profile, or have a link to her profile on the page. Copy either the whole url or just the numeric ID depending on what you have handy, and paste only this numeric ID after a + (you may need to clean up the extraneous bits and pieces like “https://…”).

Upon clicking the “share” button, this will be parsed into a tag as usual.

Happy tagging !

I’ve found that it works best to just include their user id next to the plus sign (“+12345678901234567890″) and it works very well.  The only downside is that it doesn’t parse it right away, so you have to actually share the post before you know if it worked or not.  That’s kind of a pain, but at least Google+ lets you edit your posts in case it didn’t work quite right.

Great tip, Manuel!

Maps of Google+ users

I’ve come across a few cool maps of Google+ users to try to help find users in your areas.  Both are relatively sparse, since they require users to manually add their locations.  Still, they’re quite cool.

Ravi Lakhani | Google Maps
Ravi’s map uses an openly editable Google Map in which anyone can add a pushpin of their location.

Michael Sersen | Google Fusion Table
Michael’s map is generated by data that you put into a form.

There are a few others floating around, but those seem to be the most solid.  Have you found any others that are any better?

Customize the photos in your Google+ profile

Colin Welch has put out a great guide on how to customize the photos on your about page.  I tried it out on my profile and it worked pretty well.  I did it somewhat like Jill Whalen, with four photos of my face and one with a logo.

It’s a fun little trick!  Colin has built a very nice guide on how to do it, includes a Photoshop template to speed the process along.  If you don’t have Photoshop (like me), you can still do it yourself.  The individual images are 125×125, and there is a 13px gap between each one.

If you build a cool one for yourself, leave a comment and show it off to the rest of us!

Google+ has over 10 million users already?

Last week, we showed you Paul Allen’s work on trying to determine how many users were on Google+.  At the time, he was estimating around 1.7 million users.  Now he is estimating there are over 10 million users on the site, and that number could grow to 20 million by the weekend if the Google+ invites remain open.  Wow!

As before, the math is certainly inexact but has some sound logic behind it.

My model is simple. I start with US Census Bureau data about surname popularity in the U.S., and compare it to the number of Google+ users with each surname. I split the U.S. users from the non-U.S. users. By using a sample of 100-200 surnames, I am able to accurately estimate the total percentage of the U.S. population that has signed up for Google+. Then I use that number and a calculated ratio of U.S. to non-U.S. users to generate my worldwide estimates. My ratio is 1 US user for every 2.12 non-U.S. users. That ratio was calculated on July 4th through a laborious effort, and I haven’t updated it since. That is definitely a weakness in my model that I hope to address soon. The ratio will likely change over time.

You can read his full write-up here.  Do you agree with his logic?  Can we really already be at 10 million users?