After a relatively long wait, Google announced today that they have launched an update to their Google Plus iPhone app. As I type this post, my phone seems to be taking its own time in downloading the update which gives me the impression that this particular update is a fairly significant one. In fact, Google seem to almost want the Google plus app to be part of your normal day to day experience by stressing that “we’re not interested in a mobile or social experience that’s just smaller. We’re embracing the sensor-rich smartphone (with its touchable screen and high-density display), and transforming Google+ into something more intimate, and more expressive”.
The most significant line in their announcement to me, was their justification for the iPhone app upgrade, “today’s new iPhone app is an important step in this direction—toward a simpler, more beautiful Google”. I’m not sure about you, but I feel this is probably the biggest hint Google has publicly dropped of their efforts in moving toward a more ‘social’ and a more ‘mobile-centric’ strategy for their future.
So what areas have they improved on?
The stream – the upgrade has just completed on my mobile phone and I must say, it certainly is “a feast for the eyes”. I certainly will give them a relatively high score for ‘first impressions’. Content that’s displayed on your stream not only include people’s posts in text but also incorporate elegance with regards to design. Google plus certainly looks a lot more stylish than it did before, and they do mean it when they say, “whether you post photos or articles or text, we’re making ‘em look gooood. We’re adding crisper fonts, larger profile pics and a friendlier homescreen. We’re making the stream easier to scan, and easier on the eyes with overlays, gradients and other visual elements”.
Hangouts on your iPhone – in addition to the above improvements, a great step forward is the ability to utilise hangouts directly via your iPhone. For someone whose closest friends are spread across five different time zones – be it Orlando, Oxford, Colombo, Singapore or Melbourne – the flexibility to perform hangouts virtually anywhere in the world is a significant improvement in terms of convenience and connectivity.
If there is any criticism of the app, at least for now, is the fact that the +1’s and the number of comments tend to go unnoticed on some posts due to the colour of the buttons.
Also, I wish Google plus would let me upload more than one image at a time. It is quite annoying that images need to be uploaded one by one.
Overall though, I think this is quite a momentous and significant step toward a more social Google. A Google, who is trying to shun away from the perception of an ‘algorithm driven’ company to a more ‘humanistic company’ and is taking bold steps in connecting with their users at the most basic of “sensory” levels.
The iPhone update is rolling out now to the App Store (version 188.8.131.5288), and according to Google, the Android update is coming out in a few weeks which includes some “extra surprises”. Google claim that the new mobile app is “an app with sense and soul”, but what are your thoughts on the new mobile app? Have you tried it out yet and what are it’s features you like or dislike most? Feel free to share your thoughts with us below.