Google+ offers a pretty nice mobile web experience, but it’s relatively slow and limited when compared to the full web client on the desktop. While Android users have had access to a native Google+ app since launch – including access to Google’s Huddle group messaging feature – iPhone users had to wait for Apple to approve the app. That approval has finally come and the native iPhone app is now available in the App Store, though it is definitely not as good as it could have been.
There are no major differences between the Android app and the iPhone app. Indeed, the limitations of the native mobile app on both platforms are similar to those of the web app. Posting links and other attachments (as well as giving a +1 to a comment) is still not possible, for example. Neither is resharing posts. The overall design of the app is – in Google’s best tradition – lackluster. The Facebook app-style launcher with five icons doesn’t give you a lot of information and just makes the screen look empty.
Where the app shines, however, is in allowing you to post images directly from your phone (camera or library) and in bringing Huddle – the Google+ mobile group messaging service – to the iPhone. Getting native notifications of new comments, of course, is also quite a bonus, but you don’t get granular control over which notifications you receive.
Overall, then, the app isn’t great, but does give you easier and more complete access to Google+ than the mobile web client. Maybe Google should have just waited for feedback from its Android users and then launched an improved iOS version. None of the missing features would be hard to integrate, though, so I expect we will see an improved version pretty soon.
To download the app, just head over to the App Store and get started (if you have the developer version of iOS 5 installed already, though, don’t bother, as the app just crashes).