Google+ gives big Android and iOS updates

Google updates just keep on coming. Earlier today new versions of Google+ for Android and iOS pushed out, and I've been too busy to handle the goods (Later! Promise!). Two key areas of focus: Sharing and sharing -- as in primping photos and being better part of Communities. The updates are somewhat different for both platforms.

In an unsurprising move, the iOS app picks up some features from Snapseed, which Google acquired last autumn. So now, when you’re sharing a photo, you can: "Do basic edits like rotate and crop, as well as select filters like Drama and Retrolux; adjust saturation, contrast, brightness and lots more by sliding your fingers up-and-down, then left-and-right; single tap at any time to compare your creation with the original", Amar Gandhi, Google+ director of product management, says.

Snapseed remains a separate app for iOS, and that's where the real Instagram-like photo-editing capabilities can be found.

What about the Android app? He highlights some new features:

  • Posts include more text up front -- from the original message, and from comments
  • Tapping video, photo or link attachments takes you directly to a watch page, lightbox or website
  • Image previews are rarely cropped, so you’ll see portrait photos (for instance) in all their glory
  • Key actions like +1, reshare and comment are displayed more prominently in each post
  • You can swipe through photo albums inline

The Communities component is updated on both platforms. Enhancements include:

  • The ability to adjust the volume of community posts in your Home stream
  • The option to invite people to a community, or reshare items with a community
  • Member search, content moderation, and report-remove-ban support for community managers

Reviews are generally positive on both platforms. Average rating for the new version is 4.5 stars at Apple's App Store. Overall average is 4.2 stars for all versions on Google Play, where Bryan Lambert writes: "Excellent!! This such a great app, easy to navigate, very smooth and detailed. With the new update looks fabulous, great job Google!"

Amir Abdullah would "take this over facebook twitter and instagram. That's just my opinion but it just looks better and is the easiest to use. It's better than I thought it would be. Thinking bout switching. This is the place to go if you do. Shoud've done it a long time ago. Stunned. Keep it up".

But other reviewers see things differently. "Every single release this app gets worse as Google panders to the techTards", Shane Monroe opines. "Why does EVERYTHING have to look and act like magazine flow? How is it that I can see shifting comments under posts -- but I can't do something simple like LONG PRESS->MUTE a post in my stream? Sigh".

Similarly, Frank Chagas is "disappointed. Used to use Google+ regularly for news and jokes etc., but latest update killed it for me. Looks better but these Facebook-esque suggestions are a hindrance".

Google+ for Android 3.6 requires version 2.2 or higher of the operating system. Google+ for iOS 4.2 requires version 5.1 or greater of the operating system.

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