Google has released an updated Google+ iPhone app that is now available on all iOS devices, including the iPad. However, the update doesn’t add anything new to the Google+ mobile app for iPhone, which has been available since mid July.
The new release simply makes the app work on the iPad. It even keeps its original size, floating in a sea of blackness, although you can tap a “x2” button to magnify the app and view it in all its granulated iPad glory.
Regardless of the fact that, for now, the app isn’t any different on the iPad than on the iPhone (and, while we’re at it, let’s note that Google delivers a remarkably similar experience on theGoogle+ mobile app for Android, too), mobile apps are essential to the whole social-networking experience. Apple iPad owners wanted an app, and now they have one. I think most iPad owners would rather have a cloned app than none at all while they wait for a fully fledged version to come their way.
The Google+ mobile app came out of the gate strong, due to its clean interface and Spartan design. The search giant is sometimes criticized for designs that are too austere, but on a smartphone, simplicity counts. Less screen space means every inch of it has to be used effectively. The iPad, with its mid-sized screen, could certainly support more stuff—buttons, panels, slider bars—and in time, perhaps it will. Still, the app is clean and easy to navigate without too many menus and unnecessary words cluttering the screen.
How to Get Google+ Mobile App for iPad
You can get the iPad app by downloading it through iTunes. Once you find and install the free app, just sign in using your Google account. You do need Google+ access, so if you don’t have an invite yet, ask around. They’re much easier to come by this month than last.
If you’ve used the Google+ site, you’ve likely already established Circles, or subsets of your connections, grouped by whatever classification you want to create, such as close friends, co-workers, extended family, and so forth. All those Circles will be present and ready to go when you load your iPad app and log in.
Notably missing in the app is the Hangout feature, or video group chat, which is Web-only. Given the iPad’s support for video, I’d wager that this is a feature that’s in the works for when (or “if”) a full iPad version is developed and released.
Replacing Hangouts, for the time being, is Huddle, a group instant messaging tool. To use Google+’s Huddle, select Huddle and click the speech bubble icon at the top right to start a new chat. You can invite individuals to group chat with you, or an entire Circle.
The ease with which you can manage Circles from the iPad is shocking. Google has laid out the app in such a way that you can scroll through a long list of possible connections—some of whom you’ll know, and some complete strangers—and add them to existing Circles or new ones that you can create on the spot.
At the very bottom of the main screen is a Notifications box containing a number. The box is gray if it’s 0 and red if it’s 1 or greater. Nearly identical to Facebook‘s mobile Notification feature, Google+’s pops up a screen that you can refresh by dragging down and releasing.
Mobile and Social
Bear in mind that the app is only in version 1.0.2. It’s likely that Google will push out improvements, including a true iPad app, in the coming weeks or months. I’d put my money on the Google+ iPad app having support for Hangouts, as well as a few more buttons, tools, and interface items. Yet I doubt Google will clutter the space, as it tends to err on the side of being too sparse.
The Google+ iPad app works well due to its smart design and comprehensible interface. The mobile apps are helping strum more interest in the social network, which is exactly what it needs to stay active and interesting—on all the devices where you can access it.