Google+ Android and iOS [Screenshot Tour]

I posted a first look at Google+ yesterday, full of screenshots. As a mobile developer I am in a unique position to give a side-by-side tour of the mobile experience (since I own and develop for the iPhone, iPad, Android, etc). This post aims to provide a visual walk-through of what each mobile experience has to offer.




In case you do not already know, there is an Android App available, but on iOS (iPhone+iPad+iPod) you must use the mobile site for now (a native app is apparently on the way). If you’ve used gmail on the iOS before you know what to expect from the web experience. All versions are accessible from the mobile Google Plus Site.


Still looking for a Google+ invite?

I will send you one, all I ask in return is that you spend a few minutes browsing this site and deciding if it deserves to be part of your normal reading list. RSS links / etc on the right. Either leave a comment here or use the contact me form. Remember to include your gmail address. Keep in mind that many people are having a hard time getting invites to work since it seems Google is throttling the acceptance rate. Please be aware that I’m only sending them out in batches every so often, and I do sleep sometimes (though not often), so be patient.


Note: I decided to exclude iPad screenshots because it is literally exactly the same as the iPhone, just on a larger screen. As before, I have blurred the names/etc. of the innocent. Contact me if something is amiss.

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With the iOS, you need to accept some terms and conditions for the first time, while the Android app is downloaded from the android App Marketplace.



Android also prompts for “Instant Upload” on first startup:



Android is also unique in that it requires you to select your account (in case you have more than one gmail), and that it installs a separate app for huddle (not shown to save space here, but basically it looks like they’re intentionally giving us a way to replace text messages. This will go head to head with the new iOS5 feature, both of which are going to blow away RIMs BBM).




The Home Screen


The iOS version takes you right to the stream (you have to press a back button to get “home”), but the Android app starts here…


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The Stream


Our core interface for all that is new… videos look pretty, as do comments and such. Notice that we can see where someone posted from on the iOS version, but not on the Android version (huh?)


Both versions have a checkin button and a create post button, but photos can only be added from the Android version.



The iOS has the now-common “pull to refresh” feature:




Posting to the Stream


Both versions, again, let you choose a location (and who to share with) but the iOS lacks the photo selection ability.



The iOS version has a standard “allow GPS access?” prompt (not shown) and the capacity here is not quite as great.



Android photo selection looks great…



Finally, the post is posted…







The album view:



As well as the view of individual albums…



Here’s the iOS version of the photo view which, for some reason, will not show the photo in full screen.






Circles just show lists of people within each circle. Though you can create a circle easily, at first I could not figure out how to add someone to the circle. Turns out you need to look at their profile (below) and there’s a big button there (there is no “add to this circle” button).







This is where you can add someone to a circle or interact with them in other ways. There are 3 tabs: About, Posts, and Photos. Profiles, like streams, are capable of supporting rich media (eg embedded videos).







Notifications on Android integrate smoothly into the notification system in the OS. Otherwise, its just what you expect. My one gripe is that notifications do not go away unless I click on them in the notifications, even if I clearly interacted with it from the stream.





My Favorite Feature


My favorite vanity feature is back – you can see where people have lived. Huzzah.







This is one of those new killer features we keep hearing about. Huddle lets you chat with multiple people at once, something like a cross between text messaging / Twitter / BBM / old-school chat room. The Android app comes with a separate app for huddle, if you want, and it also smoothly integrates into the OS notification system. It took forever to load the first time (just a connection indicator for a good 20 minutes), but eventually it worked…


Unfortunately, we can’t try it on iOS yet (it requires a native app).




Errors & Problems


The Android app functioned wonderfully well on my Nexus One (developer phone), except for the absurd and unknown loading time on Huddle. There were a few small problems on the iOS web app, like some rendering problems occasionally and some errors switching orientations:



One miscellaneous thought: why does Google+ not count my profile picture as a “picture of me”? Seems self-evident…




Wrap Up and Final Thoughts


Since yesterday’s initial review, I’ve come to like Google+ even more. My stream is active now with friends and colleagues… and I am actually able to keep them separate. I absolutely love the fact that I can use the Google toolbar to respond to something or just share something from any other Google service. Google is getting a completely new look over the coming weeks, even GMail (and you can try out the new look now if you want). Overall, the services are becoming more unified, consistent and appealing.


I can now say that I actually like Google+ more than I like Facebook. This does not mean that the service is better yet, though. It means that I think they have created a better tool at the core, and it will depend how that tool gets used. Facebook has a huge head start, developer tools available and much more. Hopefully Google continues to make smart decisions in catching up.



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