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!
Celebrities Category Card
New users to Google+ are currently given relatively little to do or see when they first create their account, and this still leads some people to perceive it as a "ghost town." Like Twitter, there are suggestions to follow a few celebrities and popular accounts, but it can be tedious to add more than a few people. It looks like Google wants to simplify things a bit more by offering first time users a quick and easy way to fill their circles with several popular celebrities in a couple of taps.
There aren't any simple strings to look at, but there is a layout file named celebrities_category_as_card.xml that gives just enough information about what will be on the card. It will be topped by a title that describes the category or how the group of people are similar. Below the description will be a horizontal row of celebrity pictures with names beneath them. At the bottom will be a "Follow All" button that offers the circling behavior we're all familiar with.
Plenty of code exists to back the existence and operation of this card, and it even looks like it could go into operation at any time. It's impossible to be certain what the categories will look like since all of the data is provided by the server, but it might include groups like the stars of a just-released movie or the top football players going to the next Super Bowl. Until this goes into effect, there's no way to tell what kinds of categories will be offered or how the suggestions will be determined. Also, while I'm describing this as a new feature for the onboarding process, it's entirely likely that this card will appear in the stream for long-time users, as well. We'll just have to wait to see how this one comes together.
Android Wear Support
Just about every Google app is going to end up with some kind of support for Wear now that it's out, so it's not surprise to see signs showing up in Google+. Don't get too excited, there are very few strings, and no signs of a micro-apk or the code that would be necessary to communicate with one.
<string name="common_android_wear_notification_needs_update_text">An application requires an update to the Android Wear app.</string>
<string name="common_android_wear_update_title">Update Android Wear</string>
<string name="common_android_wear_update_text">"This app won't run unless you update the Android Wear app."</string>
<string name="common_open_on_phone">Open on phone</string>
Given the available evidence, I'm leaning towards expecting Google+ to implement stacked notifications like those used by the Gmail app instead of installing a companion app like Google Keep. This is almost certainly the best choice since it won't clutter up the watch, but still gives a rich notification experience. Besides, it's not like you're going to browse your stream on a watch, and even sharing seems like something that should be done from your phone rather than a watch.
Google+ houses a large and diverse community that encourages great discussions and provides a way for users to get feedback whatever they are doing. The existing sharing options allow for posting text, links, photos, videos, events, or even a mood emoticon; and through the comment section, it's easy for people to respond with whatever they've got to say. These methods are great if you're asking people to add their opinions, but comments can be cumbersome to read and tally if you're just asking people to vote on a few options. The accepted method involves creating a share and then adding two or more comments of your own and asking people to hit +1 on anything that works for them. It's not a bad method, but it can be clumsy. But Google is about to give you the sharing method you've been waiting for: Polls.
<string name="voting_failed">Sorry, something is wrong. Try voting again later.</string>
<string name="no_internet_connection_to_vote">Unable to connect</string>
<string name="get_voters_error">"Can't retrieve poll voters. Try again later."</string>
<string name="voter_page_tab_title"><b>%1$s</b> (%2$s) <b>%3$s</b></string>
<string name="voter_page_footer">Not all voters shown</string>
<string name="poll_option_voters_no_data">No voters</string>
<string name="sharebox_polls_remove">Remove poll</string>
<string name="sharebox_polls_option_n_hint">Choice %1$d</string>
<string name="poll_header_image">Add header image</string>
<string name="poll_remove_header_image">Remove header image</string>
<string name="poll_remove_option">Remove Choice</string>
<string name="poll_ask_question">Ask something …</string>
<string name="poll_answer1">Choice 1</string>
<string name="poll_answer2">Choice 2</string>
<string name="poll_add_second_photo">Add a photo for the second choice</string>
<string name="poll_delete_image">Remove image</string>
<string name="poll_add_image">Add image</string>
<string name="poll_change_image">Change poll image</string>
<string name="poll_add_more_photo">+ More photos</string>
<string name="poll_no_votes_yet">No votes yet</string>
<string name="poll_question_required">Question text required</string>
<string name="poll_invalid_option">Must provide a valid value for your poll answers.</string>
<string name="poll_intro_tooltip_dismiss">Dismiss introduction tooltip</string>
<string name="poll_intro_tooltip_title">Polls are new!</string>
<string name="poll_intro_tooltip_body">What are people thinking? Ask and you may find out.</string>
<string name="polls_content_description">Create a poll</string>
<string name="poll_add_option_default">more choices</string>
<string name="poll_first_time_voter_message">Your vote is visible to everyone invited to vote. You can change your vote at any time.</string>
<string name="poll_is_not_available">This poll is not available.</string>
<string name="poll_public_reshare_warning">You can only reshare polls publicly.</string>
<string name="poll_domain_reshare_warning">You can only reshare polls with %1$s.</string>
Sharing a poll will involve setting your own question and options, and you can also add one or more photos if you like. It's clear that there must be at least two choices for voters to select from, and based on the poll_option_max_length, you'll have to keep the descriptions limited to a fairly brief 40 characters. It also looks like options can be added or removed after voting has begun.
Voters and their choices will not be anonymous, which may limit the usefulness of this feature for some more divisive topics. There are also some limits to sharing a poll, which is probably meant to prevent people outside of a private community from affecting the tally.
There are plenty of layouts, strings, styles, and other resources, but the images are fairly sparse. There is a single icon for the poll, which will obviously go alongside the other icons in the sharing dialog. A couple more icons represent actions to remove a poll or closing a poll you've got open. Rounding out the list are fairly standard camera icons used to represent adding photos.
Ok, maybe this isn't the most profound new feature, but it will be a welcome addition for quite a few people. I can already imagine polls becoming a staple for many independent developers.
Based on a sweep of the code and resources, it looks like everything is ready to launch polls. It's possible that there is still some code to write or final tests to run, but we might just be waiting on the staged rollout to finish up. I really wouldn't be surprised to see this go live any day. Definitely keep your eyes open for this.
That's it for this teardown. The visual tweaks and upcoming features show that Google+ is moving along really well.
I can't think of any other major social networks that offers polls, despite how convenient they would be to users. I suppose that means we should expect a certain blue-and-white themed competitor to announce the same thing in a few weeks. Correction: it seems Facebook does offer polls in the form of "Ask a question," but the feature is buried under Groups where its usefulness is limited. Thanks, Castiel. Wear integration will also come in handy for those of us that occasionally get swamped by notifications. Good things are coming!