I joined Google+ on the day that it became available, and have always enjoyed the service. I generally find the web interface to offer a nice, visual view that allows me to easily connect with and browse the work of other photographers. It’s a much nicer experience that some other leading social networks.
While the Google+ web browser experience was pretty good, their mobile experience (at least on the iPhone) was pretty bad. There was a lot of wasted space, navigation was cumbersome, and some serious performance problems made it an onerous task to do something as simple as post a status update or share a photograph. My mobile photo sharing continued to focus on other applications while I mostly ignored Google+ when I was away from my desk.
The lack of a good mobile app led me to question how much time I’d spend with the service in the future. I became skeptical.
And then last week, this happened:
An update to the iPhone app brings a new, beautiful photo-centric display which makes browsing a Google+ steam a very nice experience… arguably even better than the Instagram stream which now looks a bit plain by comparison. It’s easy to +1 photos (just tap on the + count), easy to comment, and the performance when posting new items is improved. In short, Google got this mobile experience right. Mobile photography is a big deal ($1 billion for Instagram, anyone?), and a beautiful mobile experience represents a big plus (pun intended) for Google.
There’s one big piece that’s missing (still): an API for third-party apps. My current mobile photo workflow involves using Camera Awesome to upload mobile photos to SmugMug and then cross-post to social services (sometimes Twitter, sometimes Facebook, sometimes Instagram). If I could post the images easily to Google+ as well, that would be a huge time-saver that could only increase my usage of Google+ while on the go.
I’m on the fence about switching to Google+ as my primary mobile social network (instead of Instagram). The API would make it easier, but it’s not too bad now with the new app. There’s a local Instagram meetup in a few days; I’m curious to hear what other Instagram users think about the new Google+ interface…