The New Google + App Is Way Better Than Facebook’s App

Posted by · May 24, 2012 2:51 pm

In a shocking turn of events, things are looking up for Google + today and aren’t looking so hot for the lawsuit plagued, IPO flopped Facebook. This morning, Google launched a completely revamped version of their Google + Android app, boasting more polish and better performance.  From what I’ve seen so far, I couldn’t agree more.  In fact, the sleek, uber-visual design of the new Google + app might just be enough to get me–and a lot of other folks–to use the social networking site on a regular basis.

What’s new

With this update, Google has incorporated a number of user’s feature requests, including the ability to start a hangout from your mobile phone and edit inline posts. For non-iPhone users, Google Hangouts gone mobile means that you now have Facetime; and for anyone who has ever posted something to Facebook from your mobile phone, wanted to delete it but realized you couldn’t, Google’s inline editing capabilities puts them at a distinct advantage for those of us prone to spelling errors.

But perhaps the thing I’m most impressed with about the new Google + app is the immersive media experience of the app.  According to the official Google blog post about the changes, there’s now “full-screen media in the stream, conversations that fade into view and instantly-touchable actions like +1.”  In all honesty, it’s one of the prettiest, most visual mobile apps I’ve ever seen.

Other cool features offered by the new Google + app are the new navigation ribbon that slides in and out and gives you easy access to your Google + Stream, your Google + Profile, Google + Messenger, Hangouts, Photos and Circles, and the ability to download Google + photos and turn them into wallpaper on your phone.

What’s weird

Today’s Android update comes over two weeks after Google released a similar version of the new app for the iPhone.  Given the fact that making their products work well on Apple devices has never been Google’s first priority, it’s not surprising that the Google + iPhone app needed an update, but it is surprising that the company chose to release it before unleashing the new-and-greatly-improved app to their own Android operating system.

Another thing that strikes me as interesting is the timing of the new Google + Android app: directly in the middle of the Facebook IPO scandal and the same day that Facebook announces the launch of Facebook Camera.  Facebook Camera, which will only be available on iOS devices for the foreseeable future, makes it easier for users to upload and view photos.  According to Facebook’s press release:

“When you launch the app, you’ll see a feed of just great photos from the people you care about. You can swipe to see more of any album or tap to enlarge an individual photo.”

It’s unclear to me whether those photos will automatically upload to Facebook proper as well or just the Facebook Camera app.  If Facebook Camera photos do not automatically upload to Facebook proper then the app is really just a poor man’s Instagram, which, in case you forgot, Facebook bought for $1 billion not too long ago.

But back to the Google + app…

When Google released the Google + iOS app update a few weeks ago, Google SVP of Engineering Vic Gundotra talked about the changes on Google’s blog:

“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,” Gundotra said.

Once you check out the new Google + app, you’ll see that that is exactly what Google has done.  The app is beautiful to look at and easy to use.  In fact, it seems to play on all of Facebook’s weaknesses (namely Facebook’s crappy mobile experience) at a time when Facebook may actually be at its weakest.  I, for one, have noticed a marked decline in my Facebook usage over the past few months, and the changes to the Google + mobile app may be just enough for me (someone who hasn’t always been Google +’s biggest fan) to start hanging out over there a little more.

If you’re still on the fence about whether the Google + is really all I’m making it out to be, here’s the video Google released along with the new iPhone app a few weeks ago.  It just might turn you into a believer.

  • ….of course, people in your circles have to actually post things for this to work.