Google announced the launch of Google+ Communities, the big G's version of Facebook Groups, in an official blog post on Thursday.

Google+ Communities are "a gathering place for your passions" and "more permanent homes for all the stuff you love," wrote Google Senior Vice President Vic Gundotra.

Any Google+ user can create Communities, which includes features such as public/private membership, discussion categories, the ability to start hangouts and events with members of a Community, and the ability to share something with other Community members any time you hit a +1 button on any site.

Current official Communities include groups centered around Audi, Call of Duty and Star Wars.

Google+ Communities launched on Thursday in a non-final preview mode, and Gundotra also revealed that the feature will come to mobile devices "soon."

Catching up to Facebook

Facebook Groups have been around for years, though Google+ Communities include some additional features, like the abilities to share with Communities from any +1 button and to start a hangout with an entire Community.

But despite Google+ still playing catch-up to Facebook, its user numbers have increased - according to Gundotra's blog post, 135 million people are currently "active" in the Google+ stream.

Compare that to 90 million registered users - many of which likely were not "active" - in February, eight months after Google+'s June 2011 launch, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

As Google+ continues to gain more of the features that Facebook already has, the newer social network may continue to attract users.

Snapseed for Android

In Thursday's blog post, Google also announced that Nik Software's popular photography app Snapseed had arrived on Android devices.

Snapseed, the 2011 iPad app of the year, according to Gundotra, allows users to alter photos with basic adjustments, creative filters, and some slightly more advanced features.

Google acquired Nik in September, and this is the first time Snapseed has become available on Android.

The app is free on Google Play as of Thursday.