Google+ now available as an iOS Universal App

Just when I was thinking, “Man, I wish Google would either create a native iPad application or a universal iOS application for Google+” they did just that. Yesterday, Google released their highly anticipated Google+ universal iOS application which has been optimized for the iPad. It is available for free in the Apple App Store. Not only does it bring full display support, but you can now start and join Google+ Hangouts, use the Instant Upload feature, as well as other new features.

Key Features (according to the app description in the app store):

  • New iPad-optimized layout brings your stream to life
  • Share photos directly to Events for all your friends to enjoy
  • Video chat with up to 9 friends with mobile Hangouts
  • Turn on Instant Upload to sync photos from your phone to a private Google+ album
  • Chat with a  friend or all your friends at once with Messenger from your phone
  • Check out the What’s Hot stream to see popular posts
  • View the Nearby stream to see what people near your location are saying
  • See vibrant, high resolution images on Retina display devices

New Features In Detail

Initial Impressions:

After opening the application and logging in to my Google account, I was immediately impressed with the visuals. Images are crisp and the interface is extremely responsive. I haven’t had a chance to try it with the original iPad or iPad 2, but as for The New iPad they look very, very nice.

Initial Login Screen

Home Screen

Interface:

This is how I expect applications to be designed. Animations are smooth and appealing without slowing down the system. The layout actually makes sense. For example, when browsing through the home screen, popular posts appear larger than non-popular posts when swiping through them. I’m definitely not a big Google fan, but it’s obvious they did their homework in this department. You can choose which circles display information by tapping at the top of the screen, and create new posts by tapping on the top-right of the screen. To refresh, swipe to the left. And to open additional menus, tap the menu button at the top-left, which will bring up the option to select Home, Profile, Hangout, Find People, and settings. Beneath that are notifications. Very clean. Very easy.

Clicking on Profile allows you to, you may have guessed already, view your profile. However, it doesn’t allow you to do much else. You can see your details, but can’t change any of them. The only real actionable thing I’ve found available from here is the ability to share photos in Instant Upload and click on links that show up in your stream.

Hangout is still hangout. You can start a hangout with up to nine other people by inviting specific individuals, circles, or by making it public. I’d love to see the option to view current and future public Google+ Hangout sessions.

The Sidebar Reveals Additional Menus

The Sidebar Reveals Additional Menus

A Closer View Of The Sidebar

A Closer View Of The Sidebar

What’s Missing:

Although there are a lot of great things about the new Google+ applications, there are still a few things missing that I’d like to see implemented sooner rather than later.

  • The ability to edit your profile (I’d love to be able to edit details and change profile pictures from the device)
  • The ability to view your profile as somebody else (to help understand what others see)
  • The ability to message friends from the iPad (this is in the iPhone version)
  • The ability to see which of your friends is publicly online
  • The ability to create new Google+ Events from the iPad (this is in the iPhone version)
  • Ability to search, join, or view public Google+ Hangouts
  • Ability to start Google+ Hangout with Extras and/or On Air
  • Circles - Really? Where is the Circles feature that lives in the iPhone version? I can create a new circle and select them when adding friends, but either I haven’t found the feature to see who has you in circles, and who you have in circles, or it doesn’t exist.

Overall:

Overall, I think it’s worth the download if you have an iPad. The features are compelling enough to warrant having, and the visuals are simply stunning. It’s not yet quite where I think it should be, but for a first attempt, I think the folks over in Mountain View did a pretty good job. Will it be a contender for the likes of Facebook? I don’t think so. What Google is doing very well, though, is merging social components into the threads of our daily lives. Whether you think that’s a good or bad thing (or somewhere in the gray area) I’ll leave up to you to decide. As they increase the competencies and ubiquity of collaborative features such as Hangouts, Google Docs, YouTube sharing, etc. I can see it becoming a very solid tool for creativity, meetings, and work.

So that’s what I think. What do you think? Have you played around with Google+ on iPad yet? What are your thoughts and initial impressions? If you like this post, sign up for updates.