Mobile Apps

Google+ App Updates Focus on Photos, Tweak Text

Google has made another bid in its attempt at social media relevancy with the launch of iOS and Android updates for Google+.

The revamped apps have improvements in four areas — photos, posts, profiles and communities.

“Everybody wants to share whatever they’re doing whenever they’re doing it, and mobile is the place to be,” Andrew Eisner, director of community and content at Retrevo, told TechNewsWorld. “If anything, this is one area where Facebook is struggling, and Google might have an opportunity here to pass it.”

Google is “locked in a feature war with Facebook” but currently, Google+ “is still the upstart challenger,” said Carl Howe, a research vice president at the Yankee Group.

Google did not respond to our request to comment for this story.

The Revamped Google+ Apps

Google introduced some of the photo enhancements from the recently acquired Snapseed to its iPhone app. Users can perform basic edits, select filters and adjust saturation, contrast and other features; they can also single-tap at any time to compare the edited photo with the original.

Google is offering a collection of apps for professional photographers through the website of Snapseed’s publisher, Nik.

Posts in the updated apps can now include more text. Tapping video, photo or link attachments takes users directly to a watch page, lightbox or website. Key actions such as +1, reshare and comment are displayed more prominently in each post, and users can now swipe through photo albums inline.

The apps let users share their current location on their Google+ profile and select who can see the location. Users may also adjust the volume of community posts in their Home streams, invite people to a community, reshare items with a community, and offer features for community managers.

Both apps will be available in Google Play v3.6 and the App Store v4.3 today.

Social Media Battle Royale

The revamped apps are part of a wave of announcements made by Google. On Monday, Google staffer Matt Steiner blogged that animated GIFs can now be used for profile photos on Google+, and last week Google added an image search filter that made it easier for users to find animated GIFs.

“Both [Google and Facebook] rely on network effects — where consumers join a social network because their friends are part of one — to drive their growth, so both companies are working as hard as they can to make their network the most attractive,” Howe told TechNewsWorld.

This gives rise to games of follow-the-leader between them, he added. “I expect this to play out in much the same way as the battle between Windows and Macintosh — both will ‘borrow’ features from one another in an attempt to retain users and grow their installed base.”

Playing to Google’s Strengths

Updating the iOS app is a good move because “the iOS market is huge and Google’s tapping that market,” Eisner said.

There is also the potential for integration between Google+ and Gmail, “so there is some teamwork interaction there,” he noted. “Facebook is struggling to come up with a viable mobile strategy and it now has to watch out for Google.”

It is “easier in many ways for Google to add social to search than it is for Facebook to add search for social,” Howe said. Google also has other services that can be meshed with Google+. “I expect both companies to continue beating each other’s brains out for years to come.”

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