New Google+ Android update brings Hangouts, photo features, plus new UI

by Phil Hornshaw

Not too long ago, Google+ for Apple’s iOS platform got an update. It was a pretty extensive one, too, and it left some Android users feeling a little left out. Android is Google’s platform, but the improvements to the mobile version of its social network went first to its biggest competitor.

The fact that iOS got the update to Google+ first hasn’t changed, but at least Android users are now on equal footing. The new update to the Android version brings all the cool improvements first seen on iOS, plus a few little tweaks that are specific to Android users that might help ease the pain of being second.

First and foremost is the big visual redesign of Google+, which has basically completely reworked the way the app feels. It’s a redesign that people seem to either love or hate, putting a lot of emphasis on visuals by blowing up photos and videos and making them a very large part of the Google+ timeline.

The increased emphasis on photos and visuals means that the app now allows you to download photos you find in Google+ posts or in chats between you and the people you follow. The messenger function, which allows you to send messages to people in your Google+ Circles, has also been tweaked to provide suggestions of people you may want to include when you contact groups of people, similar to what Google’s Gmail provides when you’re drafting an email.

A few other minor improvements came through in the Android app. For instance, you can now initiate one of the “Hangout” sessions Google+ is known for from a dedicated button on the menu. This means starting Hangouts and getting people into them is much quicker and easier than in the previous version. Hangouts have also been tweaked to provide a “ring” notification sound. And finally, you can edit posts after you post them from the mobile app, a feature that means mistakes you post accidentally while you’re out and about don’t have to stick.

It’s still kind of interesting that Google opted to upgrade its iOS app before its Android app, but then again, Android users could choose to see the update as Google using Apple’s platform to test the improvements before pushing the real thing to its own platform. That’s probably a bit of wishful thinking – Google makes a whole lot of money from iOS through its apps and searches – but at least the Google+ update has finally made its way to loyal Google users on its own devices.

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