Google snuck out an update to its Google+ iPhone app Tuesday, adding a powerful feature that should make people interested in sharing photos and videos (read: everyone) take notice.
Google+ for iOS now has instant upload, a feature previously available only on Android devices. Now, whenever you snap some photos or record video with your iPhone, it’s automatically uploaded to Google+, accessible — and shareable — from any device. All media is private by default, only visible to others if you explicitly share it.
How is that different from iCloud’s Photo Stream feature? Photo Stream fundamentally is more about making sure the photos you take on all your iOS devices are accessible from all your iOS devices. Although those photos also exist in the cloud for a time, they’re pushed to your devices’ storage, so they’re treated like any other piece of media. Google+ pics are in the cloud.
Practically, this translates into three key differences:
When you share a photo or video from Google+, it’s already online, so there’s no data transfer when you want to share or email it. If you’re on a stingy data plan, and you upload lots of video, that can help a lot.
No expiry date:
Apple says Photo Stream pics are only in the cloud for 30 days. There’s no expiry date for Google+ photos, and you can store as many as you like (Photo Stream maxes out at 1,000).
It works with videos:
Just what it says on the tin — Photo Stream is only for photos whereas Google+ does video as well.
Google+ instant upload will work with any device that has the app, which includes all your Android devices, too.
Now, nothing’s free or unlimited, so there are trade-offs. The maximum resolution for photos handled by the instant uploader is 2,048 x 2,048 pixels. If you’re on an iPhone 4S, those 8-megapixel pics are going to be down-rezzed. And for video, your clip can’t be any longer than 15 minutes.
Last but not least, the Google+ app will only upload your content when it’s launched or recently put in the background, so it’s not quite as automatic as photo stream. Of course, users can decide whether or not to upload over both Wi-Fi and cellular networks or Wi-Fi only — something the app will ask you when you launch the updated version for the first time.
Are you an iPhone user? What’s your take on the introduction of instant upload to the Google+ app? Have your say in the comments.
BONUS: Google Merges Search and Google+ Into Social Media Juggernaut
Google Search plus Your World Personal Results
Integrated social search is immediately evident in three spots on your search results page. You have to be signed into Google+ to see all this.