Social networks serve a number of purposes: keeping in touch with friends and colleagues, sharing ideas with others and maintaining a market presence. Google+ expands upon the idea of friends lists that most social networks use, bringing circles into being. These make it possible to share different information with different people.
When you’re out and about, or even when you are just at home, ‘huddles’ can be used to quickly create a group for your contacts which can then be used to send messages to each other. The posts and comments from your contacts are displayed in your Stream, and Foursquare and Facebook style check-ins are also available if you want to let people know where you are.
An extension of the check-in feature means that it is possible to see what other nearby are posting. In your own neighbourhood this may lead to some interesting discoveries, but it is genuinely useful when out and about. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat or grab a coffee, check check to see if anyone in the area has made any recommendations recently.
Despite the claim that this is an iPad compatible app, Google+ is not a universal app, nor is there currently an iPad specific version available. This version of the software will run on iPod Touches, iPhones and iPads, but anyone using Apple’s tablet will find that the app runs in expanded mode whereby a smaller interface is blown up to fill the screen.
It’s easy to see why Google hasn’t bothered with an individual iPad version. Google+ is clearly designed for use on the move, and this means that users are far more likely to be carrying an iPhone in their pocket than a larger iPad. It does mean that the iPad interface is currently a little on the ugly side, and there are other issues. A lack of landscape support is a strange omission, and the fact that it is not possible to quickly disable geotagging for individual posts could be a worry.
The Google+ iOS app isn’t perfect, but it is still very early days for the social network and the app. There is certainly room for improvement, but there are already promising signs.