Since the launch of Android 5.0 last month, the sheer number of app updates has been magnificent – and downright overwhelming. Believe it or not, most of the new versions haven't done much more than add Lollipop support and splash a fresh coat of Materialized paint on the UIs. Seriously, we've been checking. This isn't entirely a bad thing, as it's giving me time to work on some other projects...
Material Design was the driving force behind a Google+ update that began rolling out on Friday. But while there may be a newer look, there's very little to speak of in the department of functional changes. Naturally, I had to poke around to see if there were any surprises buried underneath the fresh coat of paint. As it turns out, there are a few things worth talking about. It's time for a Teardown!
Can you believe it's been three years since Google introduced its very own social network in private beta? We can - Android Police has published hundreds (Hell, maybe thousands) of articles about Google's social network, since it's been tightly integrated with the company's mobile, web, and search platforms. There have been a lot of big changes since then, and it still isn't the Facebook-stomping behemoth that some people hoped it might be.
Earlier today, Google announced a pretty significant update to the Google+ app for Android. Version 4.1, which follows 4.0.2, brought the following new features:
- Google Drive Photos integration, including viewing, easier sharing, and auto-awesome/auto-enhance.
- Account switching without having to log out.
- Better location sharing controls.
- Google+ified swipe-down-to-refresh (like Gmail, except with funky fresh Google+ colored bars).
- Messenger extermination (finally, the Messenger menu item is gone).
- Google Apps for Business support.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you are probably aware of the recent improvements and updates to the Google+ experience, both on the web and in mobile apps. While Auto Awesome, Auto Enhance, Auto Highlight, Auto Backup, and other widely discussed features are certainly exciting, one subtle nicety managed to fly under our radar until a post by Google's +Tor Norbye pointed out just how awesome it is.
The feature I'm talking about is visual recognition in Google+ photo search.
Hordes of excited Google+ users trying to get the new v4.0 update of their favorite Android app were puzzled this morning when their devices running Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean were suddenly listed as incompatible. Numerous "WAT?!"s were exclaimed and heart attacks had, but don't worry, Google isn't canning Google+.
As you can see, the reason your devices are incompatible is simple - the Google+ team set the app compatibility to just Froyo and Gingerbread.
With the arrival of Google+ vanity URLs, we decided this would be a good time to share the AP love with those on the network who may not have added us to a circle yet. Speaking of custom URLs, we just snagged ours this morning; you can now find us at www.google.com/+AndroidPolice. Fancy, no?
What's in it for me? you may be asking. How about joining our over 48,000 other followers and great discussions with like-minded folks?
If you haven't heard, Google+ is getting an events feature. "Party at Ron's house, 9pm on Friday, who's coming?" - that sort of thing. News of G+ Events leaked, surprisingly, through Google Calendar. Someone discovered G+ Events code in GCal - Apparently there will be some integration. Sounds plausible.
The Android app, of course, is going to need to support the fancy new events feature too. The other day in our AP chat, Eric pointed out a hidden section in the G+ App's navigation list.