Google+ users will now be able to access their other online iOS and Android apps more seamlessly and quickly due to a new Google+ Sign-In feature that's just been unveiled.
The new service allows users to tie their Google+ sign-in process to the sign-in processes for their most-used non-Google apps on their desktops or mobile devices.
Google announced the new sign-in feature in a Feb. 26 post by Seth Sternberg, director of product management for Google+, on the Google Developers Blog.
"Whether you're building an app for Android, iOS or the Web, users can now sign in to your app with Google, and bring along their Google+ info for an upgraded experience," wrote Sternberg. "It's simple, it's secure and it prohibits social spam. And we're just getting started."
The new feature means that users who sign in to Gmail, YouTube or any other Google service can now use their existing credentials to sign in to apps outside of Google, which speeds things up for users, wrote Sternberg. "Just review the Google+ permissions screen (outlining the data you're sharing with the app, and the people who can see your activity), and you're all set," he wrote.
Good security remains a part of the process because it includes the existing two-step verification that is already built in to Google services, he wrote.
The improved sign-in process will also make it easier for users who access Web-based and mobile versions of the same app, wrote Sternberg. Using Google+ Sign-In, users will be able to sign in to a Website with Google, then install its mobile app on their Android device with a single click.
Users will also be able to choose whether they want to share their activities with others online using Google+, or to keep them private, according to the service.
In addition, a user's friends on Google+ will see a new kind of interactive post in their Google+ streams that when clicked allows them to see inside the app, where they can buy, listen to or review what the user shared, wrote Sternberg.
Developers will now be able to build these capabilities into their apps so they will be compatible with Google+ Sign-In, he wrote. "If you're building an app for Android, iOS or the Web, and you'd like to include Google+ Sign-In, simply dive in to our developer docs and start checking stats once your integration is live. Android apps will require the latest version of Google Play Services, which is rolling out to all devices in the next day or so."
Some developers who are already integrating Google+ Sign-In into their own apps (using a "Sign-In with Google" button) include Banjo, Beautylish, Fancy, Fitbit, Flixster, The Guardian, OpenTable, Shazam, TuneIn and USA Today, according to Sternberg.
The Google+ Sign-In feature is part of Google Play Services, which helps improve integration of Google products and provides new capabilities for developers to use within their apps, according to a related Feb. 26 post by Reto Meier, a member of the Android developer relations team, and Matt Waddell of Google+.
In December, Google+ introduced online communities to allow users to connect to others who have the same interests in online communities around the world. The idea was to make the Google+ social platform even more useful by encouraging participants to build and nurture online communities about the things they love, from sports to collecting to cooking and more.
Google+ has been around since June 2011, when it was started by the company as an online offering to compete with Facebook, or at least to give Google a piece of the social networking pie. Users were able to share events and news online with others in their "circles," then connect with others in their friends' circles, too. The communities can be set up to be open to anyone on Google+ or they can be private groups closed to the general public.
So far, more than 500 million people have upgraded their Google accounts to Google+, including 235 million who are active and about 135 million who are mostly observers, according to Google.
Google has been tweaking its Google+ offerings often to try to grow its user base and make it a must-visit destination for consumers who are already deeply entrenched in more mature social networks, including Facebook.