This week has been busy with updates, but many are just checking bugs off the list before everybody takes off a couple of weeks for the holidays. The web interface was given adjustments for how frequently Recommended and Trending posts are shown, and there are now better recommendations and a new horizontally scrollable view on the mobile site, but only the improved recommendations made it over to the app (so far). The interesting part of the apk update is in the teardown, which confirms plans to relocate the location sharing feature to Google Maps. There is also evidence of a new improved image cropping tool in the works.
The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk.
Location Sharing will move to Google Maps
Rumors that the location sharing feature would move to Google Maps have been going around for a long time, and hints of such a plan have been visible in teardowns of Maps, Google+, and Play services for so long that it's almost more surprising this didn't happen sooner. However, new text in the Google+ apk is so specific about the plan, there's no room for misinterpretation. I almost feel comfortable calling it officially confirmed. One line literally says "Location sharing has moved to Google Maps." Need I say more.
<string name="maps_location_sharing_redirect_title">Location sharing has moved to Google Maps</string>
<string name="maps_location_sharing_redirect_subtitle">Continue to Google Maps to choose the people you want to share your location with.</string>
<string name="maps_location_sharing_redirect_positive_button_text">Go to Google Maps</string>
<string name="maps_location_sharing_redirect_negative_button_text">No thanks</string>
These lines will obviously appear in place of the current location sharing screen, offering to send users over to Google Maps. Recent teardowns of the Maps app show that users will be able to look up each other through phone numbers, but they should also have options to share locations using email addresses, Google+ profiles, and possibly some other methods.
Improved image cropping tool
I'm not going to pretend there's much to say about the cropping tool or that anybody should be too interested, but a new activity, strings, and images have turned up that indicate there may be a new version, or at least some new features, coming soon. Rewrites for controls or individual screens happen in Google's apps fairly often and it's rarely worth mentioning in a teardown, but this one does include a new characteristic that hasn't been available before: common aspect ratios.
Several lines represent the most common aspect ratios for images for different situations, like 16:9 for widescreen videos and 4:3 for old school TV shows, 3:2 for "straight out of the camera" photographs (because this matches most image sensors and 35mm film), and of course Square and Original.
<string name="crop_image_content_description">Image to be cropped</string>
<string name="crop_button_content_description">Done editing</string>
<string name="cropping_image_status_message">Cropping image…</string>
<activity android:name="com.google.android.libraries.social.cropper.standaloneactivity.StandaloneCropActivity" android:exported="false" android:theme="@style/Theme.AppCompat.Light.NoActionBar" />
The current cropping tool can only be used to adjust the framing of profile pictures, and it's not even very good at that. A new tool would likely allow users to trim away parts of an image before including it in a post or album. The only way to do that right now is to use an image editor to do the cropping, then share the images to Google+. This may seem like a relatively small feature, but it could result in huge time savings for people that share a lot of photos.
The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.