App Attack: Google+ (Android)

A disclaimer before beginning this edition of App Attack: As I reviewed it last week, I am currently using the HTC Evo 3D as my new phone of choice. The phone has yet to achieve a permanent root solution, and therefore, I am unable to take screenshots of the Google+ app without having some issues. As a result of this, I have pulled a couple of pictures from various different sources. My thanks go out to the following:

TechStuffs4U
AndroidShine
Pocket-Lint

And now, let’s get on with the review. As you’ve seen in my continuing coverage this week of everything Google+, this new service is poised to help redefine the social networking world by introducing a new set of features that are unlike any other. The Google+ app for Android has already been released, and, at first glance, looks a little bit like the Facebook app. There are only five buttons on the main menu, to access your Stream, your Photos, your Circles, your profile, and Huddle, the chat service offered on Google+. There is also a bar at the bottom to bring up your notifications. Everything on the main menu looks very clean, neat, and uncluttered. The icons are in that new, sophisticated Google styling that has come to life recently. In general, there is a lot less going on here than there is on the Facebook app, and I am completely okay with that. Let’s start to take a look at each of the different pages.

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The home screen on Google+ is incredibly simplistic. It’s very clean, and gets you exactly where you need to go very quickly.

Stream
Your stream is essentially the News Feed of Google+. In the main screen, you can view stories from people you have in your circles. One feature that seems to be missing here is the ability to select which circle you want to view–they all show up together. That functionality is something that they seem to be pushing on Google+, and to have that missing seems to be a little weird. Swiping to the left side of the screen reveals posts made by people that have added you, but you have not added to your circles. Swiping to the right side of the screen will show you posts from people in your immediate area, something that seems like a pretty cool addition. Even with my GPS off, I was still able to get posts based on a 10 mile radius from my house.

Posting onto your Stream is incredibly easy. Just click the pencil at the top right of the screen and you’re good to go. You can add photos or your location to a post, as well. There are also buttons at the top of the main stream page to just add a check-in or to add a photo. When posting, you do have the capability to just share with specific circles, which is definitely a nice feature.

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Your Stream. Swiping to the left side of the screen will pull up your Incoming posts, from people you have not added to your circles that have you in their circles. Swiping to the right will show posts from people in your area.

Huddle
I haven’t gotten to use Huddle for anything just yet, and I’m imagining that I probably won’t until after more people get signed in to Google+. The concept of it though is pretty simple. You can initiate a chat with any of your friends, or even entire circles. Its a really cool concept that seems very easy to use.

Photos
This is my favorite feature of the app so far. By bringing up the Photos section, you can view photos from within your circles (again, missing the option to filter based on circle). You can also view your photos, and do something called Instant Upload. I personally love this feature, as it was able to upload a picture from my phone to the service within a matter of seconds. When I tried this out, I uploaded 8 photos from a concert I recently went to into a Stream post, and they were all there within a couple of seconds. You can then view these photos on your Stream or in the photos section, under “Photos From Posts” under your albums.

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Photo viewing on Google+ is fast, simple, and clean. Just like everything else.

Profile
I won’t spend too much time talking about the profile features, as they aren’t too extremely different from Facebook. Your profile shows your posts, photos, and your About Me section. You can access the different features by the three buttons at the bottom. Posts are organized by time, and you can view who was able to see that post based on the circle they are in.

Circles
Circles are what really differentiate Google+ from other social networks. You can group people you’re connected with into different circles. You can then choose to share posts with different circles. This is especially a great feature if you’re working on a project for school or work and don’t want details getting to everyone. You can just choose to share it with whoever is within a specific circle. The one thing that I could not figure out is how to add email addresses from the app to be able to add to a circle. This is something pretty big right now as people are wanting invites (doing this from Safari on my iPad is sufficient enough, but incredibly slowwww). You can edit your circles in app, which is really nice. I want to see more functionality though when it comes to the circles in future installations of the app.

To summarize everything here, the app is not perfect yet, but, as a first version, it’s pretty damn close. The big deal with Google+ is the Circles feature, and I don’t feel like Google has completely implemented everything that they want to in regards to them. But again, as a first version of the app, it’s really, really good.

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