Despite a few incompatibility issues that were causing it to crash with developer versions of iOS 5, the Google+ iPhone app is a hit. It’s already the top free app in Apple’s app store (though it’s noticeably missing from both the “Featured” tab and the “What’s Hot” tab— what gives, Apple?), and it’s already amassed 1,664 ratings with an average of three stars. That number will probably grow considerably today, even though G+ is still in beta.
Here’s a look at some of the new-ish features after spending some time with it this morning. (Or you can just skip to the end. I’m fine either way!)
A Much Faster, More User-Friendly Stream
Like the mobile web app (which in itself was already pretty impressive), the iPhone’s native interface allows users to intuitively swipe left and right to navigate between three types of Streams: Circles, Nearby and Incoming (users who are aren’t in your Circles that you may be interested in). However, whereas the web version seemed to hit walls causing you to change your swipe’s directions, the app allows users to swipe continuously either left or right. Not only does it make an already fast experience even faster, but the directive nature of it is pretty damn comfortable.
Even the “Checking in” option (with the checkbox in the upper-right hand corner) is incredibly quick (the menus open faster than Foursquare!) and the list of places in your proximity is as accurate as it should be. (It automatically checked me into 52nd Street even though I’m on 50th.)
(PHOTOS: A History of Google Doodles)
However, I encountered a few bugs when actually trying to post an update into the Stream. Every few times I clicked into the share screen it would freeze up; it’s a bug worth noting, even though it passed after a few seconds. Also, whenever I tried to tag other users with the “+” sign, it’d bring up people I’d corresponded with over Gmail, or people I deliberately hadn’t placed in Circles. It’s a minor irk that’ll hopefully be fixed soon, but I wasn’t able to tag anyone I’d actually wanted to, which is a bummer.
A New Way to Group Chat: “Huddle”
The Huddle feature is a shiny new additive that didn’t exist in the mobile web version. Essentially, it allows you to create group-like Huddles for your friends that function similarly to chat rooms where messages can be left and exchanged (think of it like a slower version of BBM group chats). It’s a nice alternative to the video chat Hangouts feature the full-blown web version of Google+ has, and takes advantage of something mobile does well: Connecting people when they’re bored.
There are some flaws, however; a major one being that you can’t attach media within a Huddle (i.e. no pictures or sound attachments). Also—at least from what I can tell—you can’t access your Huddles from the desktop version of G+. (Though I’m probably just an idiot. If someone has this figured out, let me know!)
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