Google today updated its Google+ app for Android with five new features. You can download the new version now directly from Google Play (it’s rolling out gradually, so don’t fret if you can’t see it yet).

Here’s what’s new:

  • Shake your device to add snow to your photos. Just open one of your photos, shake your device, and snow will start falling. Shake again to save.
  • Search across more stuff, from a single box. Now you can search for posts, people, photos and communities — all from one place. So the next time you’re looking for something specific, just tap ‘Search’ and type what you want.
  • Control who can buzz your phone, without missing notifications from others. If you only want certain people to be able to buzz your phone (like family), simply adjust your “Who can notify me” settings. Notifications from others will now appear in “Everything else,” so you can read them whenever it’s convenient.
  • Explore content by category. Now when you visit the What’s Hot stream, you’ll be able to “go deeper” on a number of different categories — from Music and Science to Sports and Photography.
  • Spread the love this holiday season. Now when you +1 posts in the stream, you’ll see something lovely.

The second feature is probably the most important: being able to search posts, people, photos, and communities from a single box is very powerful. Google is a search company at heart, so this type of functionality isn’t much of a surprise.

Better control of notifications is always great to see, and more options for exploring content on a still very young social network can’t hurt. Google also noted the app has received the usual “bug fixes and performance improvements.”

The first and last feature are of course themed around the holidays, and they probably won’t remain in the app forever. Take advantage of them while you can!

See also – Google+ gets new backup, auto-enhance, and HDR filters to help you become a better storyteller and Auto Awesome Movies for Google+ secretly edits your best videos into a slick, customizable highlight reel