According to the update, the new release includes:
- New photo editing features: add filters, rotate, and crop
- New profile design
- New notifications tray
- New set-up flow for new users
- Control the volume of posts that you see in your stream from individual circles / communities
- Filter search results by best or most recent
- Tell your friends about a community (by sharing it or sending an invitation)
- Re-share posts to communities
- Display counts for unread messages in your communities
- Additional community moderation features
There’s a ton there, so let’s unpack some of the more meaningful aspects of the update.
Part of the huge success of Instagram was that it gave casual phone camera users easy tools to crop an image and add some interesting filters. Since Facebook bought Instagram and likely has no intention of ever adding Google+ sharing support, Google has been working to make it the platform of choice for your photo sharing. The desktop version already included advanced photo-editing, and Google+ has allowed users to automatically upload camera images for later editing and posting, so it makes sense for the app to begin to expand and improve its photo features.
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The old mobile profile was, frankly, boring. It was so dumbed down that not even your About text would display properly. Now, the new profile includes your profile image AND your cover photo, and a very nicely styled profile page that displays your profile text perfectly, including links. The new layout mirrors the new card look of the full version. It also includes all sections within your About, where before some of the sections were omitted from the mobile experience. This should be a welcome addition for many users who use their mobile phones for the bulk of their social media activity. To get to the new profile, expand the left menu and tap on your profile pic.
The Notification Tray has moved and is now accessed by tapping the notification alert icon in the uper right corner. This now opens your notifications from the right, and reveals a very attractive list of recent notifications, complete with profile pics from those members. Tapping a notification will open the relevant post within a lightbox. You can close the lightbox and then tap on your home feed to the left to return to your home feed exactly where you were before. Accessing your notifications will no longer reset what you were doing previously.
Controlling the volume of posts to your home feed from your circles and communities is one of the more subtle yet amazing features of Google+. You can go to any of your circles or communities and adjust how many member posts make it to your home feed, allowing you to take control for yourself of what you do and don’t see, unlike Facebook. If you want to see every post from someone, you can put them in a circle with other people whom you always want to see. Being able to adjust this from your mobile phone is a huge improvement.
Sharing to Communities
Previously, you were able to create new posts in communities or, if you’re on another site, you could use that site’s share button and choose a community. However, if you shared something yourself earlier and wanted to share it to a specific community, that wasn’t possible from the mobile app. You could only share your old posts with specific individuals or circles. Why does this matter? Because Google+ is making a concerted effort to control community spam, and community moderators are stepping up to the challenge. If Google (or a moderator) notices that you’re sharing the same post over and over to every community you’re in, ALL posts will be flagged and hidden. That’s not to say though that you’re not supposed to ever share posts to communities. The currently accepted practice is to share your post to Public first, and then later on share that post to select specific communities that you know would be interested and benefit from the post. This update now allows you to do that from your smartphone.
Check out these new features and the other updates mentioned and let me know what you think!