The Google+ for iPhone app received a major makeover earlier today, and boy is it beautiful! The new Stream shows off large photos and includes many new little animations that really catch the eye.
Each story in your stream is topped with the author's profile photo and name. Behind the name is a dark, transparent bar that also displays a zoomed, horizontal chunk of the user's profile picture. As you scroll through your stream, the photos in these banners will also scroll every so slightly. It's not super obviously, but if you pay attention, you'll see it.
While scrolling, when you reach a new story you haven't seen on your screen, yet, the banner will quickly fade into the screen slightly enlarged, then quickly fall back down to normal size. I think this animation is very cool, but others have complained that all the new movements make them dizzy.
If the stories published on your stream are photos, or links with hero photos, then the pictures will be displayed in full width, front and center. At the top of the photo, you'll see the caption or comment about the story. In the bottom left you'll see a comment button and count, and in the bottom right is the +1 count. Tapping the +1 count will add a +1 on your behalf.
I'm going to pause for moment here to mention something about sharing links. If you share a link to Google+ from the plus.google.com interface, Google+ will grab an image from the article to display with the link. But if you paste a link into the sharing screen with the Google+ app for iPhone, it displays as just a simple, boring hyperlink. (See the screenshot of Rene's status above). Lame.
When sharing a status or photo with your circles, you can choose which circles to include, whether or not to attach your location, and take a photo from within the app, or choose one from your Camera Roll.
From the main menu, you can quickly access you Stream, profile, messenger, photos, and circles. You can also turn on Instant Upload to sync the photos on your phone to a private Google+ album, video chat with up to 9 friends with mobile Hangouts in Messenger, chat with multiple friends at once, and check out Nearby and What's Hot streams.
- Instant Upload syncs photos from your phone to a private Google+ album
- Video chat with up to 9 friends with mobile Hangouts
- Chat with multiple friends at once
- What’s Hot and Nearby streams
- Sharing links doesn't include a photo
- No iPad support
The bottom line
I've very impressed with the new and improved Google+ for iPhone app. It's absolutely stunning and a joy to use. Sure, it has some annoyances like not showing photos when sharing a link, but it's still an improvements over the previous version. My biggest gripe about Google+, however, is the lack of users and activity. If all my friends and family used Google+, I'd be all over it. Unfortunately, they do not. So it looks like I'm stuck with Facebook for now.