About 17 months ago, Google announced a social network platform that aims to compete with the likes of Facebook, and that would be Google+. While Google+ may not be the most groundbreaking success that the search engine giant may have been wishing for, it is still enjoying a fair bit of support. As of this time, Google+ has a total of 500 million registered users, about 235 million are active monthly. While Google+ didn't turn out to be the "Facebook killer", the company still continues to churn out enhancements for the platform. Recently, Google+ has just been updated with dozens of new features.
Just in time for the holidays, Google has rolled out 24 new features that aim to improve the Google+ experience. All of these new features are now available for the iOS, Android and web versions of the social media platform. Not just content with adding new awesome features, the Google+ iPhone app has been redesigned as well.
With the release of version 4.0 of the Google+ app, you will see that the overall look and feel of the app resembles Google’s other iOS apps such as Google Maps and Gmail. This is where the redesign comes in. On the previous versions of the app, G+ had a unique look of its own. The new design implies that Google wants to integrate Google+ with the company's other services, giving a more seamless experience and sense of uniformity. Personally, I liked the look of the Google+ app's previous versions. It is just quite a waste that not many people are using Google+ but instead turn to Facebook for their social networking needs. Fortunately, while the redesign won't be converting users to use Google+, the new look does benefit its existing users.
On top of that, the new iPhone app will enable you to swipe through photo albums inline. You can also tap once to view photos in all their glory. Another notable feature is now you can apply a subtle pan-zoom-scale effect to pictures in the stream. However, it seems that Google didn't feel that those were enough so they rolled out the Version 4.1 update which provides various other awesome features that are similar to the Android app.
Google+ Version 4.1 New Features:
- New feature: Google+ Communities
- Ability to subscribe to any circle for notifications
- Ability to indicate how many guests you're bringing to an event
- Support for time zones in Events
- Basic profile editing
- New compose UI for easier sharing
- New visual stream design
- Discover people and topics more easily using ‘Find people’
Another new feature that's worth mentioning is the new event planner. Through Google+ Events, you can easily send messages to certain guests and see which users have viewed your invitation. You can also easily share an event by simply pasting a URL into an email. When you RSVP to a particular Google+ event, you can indicate the number of guests you will be bringing with you.
One of the main features of Google+ is Hangouts, which is basically the platform's group video chat. And thankfully, it is getting a much needed update as well. There is now a new “ultra-low bandwidth mode” which will allow you to stream low-quality images which is of course useful for those that have slow internet connections. If you are just hanging out by yourself, the new Hangouts will automatically hide the "filmstrip" of faces and expand your video to fill the entire feed. From what I can gather, it is an attempt to make you forget that you are hanging out by yourself.
For the complete list of features for the new Google+ app, you can check out this G+ post by Matt Wadell. You can now download the latest version of Google+ through this iTunes link. Google+ may not be enjoying the same massive success with that of Facebook, but it seems that it is currently coming along just fine. It appeals to users on a more personal level and the userbase is divided into various niches. So it is definitely good to see that Google continues to improve the G+ experience.
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