Unless you live under a rock, or you don’t follow the Android community, Ice Cream Sandwich is at an imminent release! In fact, Samsung was supposed to announce the first smartphone that would run version 4.0. Unfortunately, due to the sad news of the death of Apple Co-Founder, Steve Jobs, Samsung and Google moved the event, to respect the visionary.
Ice Cream Sandwich will bring with it a new version of the Google+ app. Screenshots of this have already been leaked; here, we’ll take a look at what we can expect…
What’s New in 2.0?
Although the application didn’t have a complete overhaul of appearance and functionality, the updates, fixes, changes, and additions do indeed add up to an overall better experience. Let’s break it down with what we know so far.
To start, the original notification bar at the bottom of the app is now an icon on the top of the front page. In addition, Messenger is now called “Chords.” Why? No idea yet, but I don’t think there’s much of a difference. After all, this wouldn’t be the first time the name changed (remember when it was called Huddle?). Circles is redesigned, too, and now includes thumbnails of your contacts.
1) Old Homescreen 2) Homescreen with notifications on top
1) Old Messages 2) Chords
1) Old Circles 2) New Circles with Thumbnails
The app finally implements a bit of color. The notification bar is now a gradient dark blue. Also, the app finally features the icons that we know the categories by, instead of just the names. The photo albums are much bigger so you won’t have to strain your eyes to catch an engagement ring on your ex’s finger.
However, for some reason, the widget is missing on the smartphones (alone). This is most likely due to the fact that this isn’t the final version of the app update. Regardless, the application is also available for Android Tablets.
Why Now? What’s Going On?
Google has a reputation for pushing applications out one by one and polishing later. In other words, they work by the common entreprenial mindset.
Send out the boat to see if it floats. If it does, bring it back and paint it. If it sinks, move on. – Jared Erondu
In this case, it seems that Google+ has returned to shore and the tech giant is ready to color it up. This update is all about polishing the app so that it can become a true contender to Twitter and Facebook (its indirect competition).
In addition, the new menus along the top look similar to those in Google’s upcoming Music app, which was also recently leaked. This might point to some feature plans for the Silicon Valley company. Or maybe they’re just synchronizing the designs across their vast network.
What Must Google Tackle Next?
Usually we would answer, “What might Google do next?” However, this article isn’t guessing Google’s next move. Rather, this article is defining what it is that Google must do if they really want to enter the social community with a bang. At the time, “social network” is a terminology referring to just Twitter and, of course, Facebook. Google is still seen as “the search engine” who has a few other projects. Well, that’s definitely true. Google is “the search engine” and they do have a lot of side projects. Some come and go, while some stay and do a good job like Docs, Calendar, and Maps. However, from what Google has said and from the amount of time, energy, and money put into Google+, it’s safe to say that this “side project” is meant to be much bigger and to redefine a space, not just serve as an alternative.
Google+ is said by many to be the perfect combo of Twitter and Facebook. With the circles feature and profile pages, such an analogy stands true. However, where do you find yourself talking about Google+? Either via a tweet or a status update. This is exactly what Google has to tackle next. They must put a stop to this image of Google+ only being a project or else it will forever be seen as just that: a project.
Next, complete beautification. Yes, Google is known for the minimalistic design approach and nothing is wrong with that. However, they do to spend a little extra time fine-tuning the entire UI. This update is a great step in the right direction because it begins to tackle this.
Give It a Try
In a nutshell, this update is solely about polish, but it does a great job at that. Simplifying the UI and adding aesthetic features here and there definitely adds to the social experience. If you’re of the type that just can’t wait for anything when you are aware of a shortcut, you’re in luck. If you are the type that wants to test out the app for whatever other reason, you too are in luck. Below are links to mirrors where you can download the app update from.
Make sure you uninstall 1.0.7 (the current Market version) before downloading the update.