Today, Google updated its Google+ app for Android to get up to speed with all of the changes announced during last week’s I/O Developers conference. In all, there were 41 new updates, including a new stream, photos experience and Hangouts.
The Android version has all of that, and one new feature — a new location section.
Where the Anroid app really shines is with the photo capabilities. The updated Google+ app now has the auto backup, highlight, enhance and “auto awesome” functionality that the desktop version has. It’s really handy to be able to enhance your photos directly within the app, rather than waiting until you get back to your computer or relying on Google to do its magical synthetic wrinkle removal, even though it’s cool.
To make it easier to “make plans and meet,” Google+ has broken “Locations” out into its own section. Now, when you share your location with certain Circles, your friends can easily find you by tapping on that section. Naturally, it drops everyone’s location onto a Map, which makes it seamless:
Location is something that hasn’t been a great piece of Google+ to date. The service currently picks up where you are and asks you for your explicit location, not really telling you who will get to see it. With the Location section and controls, it’s easier to manage and can turn into an experience similar to that of Foursquare.
The stream is getting all of the features from last week, too. The auto hashtags will let you drill into new content, hopefully sucking up all of your free time. It turns the Google+ experience into something like Wikipedia, where you can just keep tapping on relevant content and hopefully find some new people to follow along the way. While you’re not going to get the new three-column layout on your smartphone, the drilling down is actually fun.
We’ll await the iOS update, but expect the same items to find their way into that version. All of these enhancements are made to entice you to do a little bit more in Google+, as the company doesn’t really expect you to jump ship from one network to another. The features are more complementary to one another in this update, giving a better experience to new users, which is the most important demographic for Google to focus on right now. Those of us who have tried Google+ already have our minds made up as to whether it’s useful or not. It’s the stragglers who haven’t seen it from the beginning that need to be wowed.