Google+ has always been pretty keen on staying relevant in the ever-changing social networking scenario, and maybe that’s why the service has received several major updates on all platforms pretty frequently. The latest big Google+ update came out about a fortnight ago, the same day Hangouts was introduced as a standalone service. It took Google a week to add all the exciting new features to Google+’s Android app, and a little more than a week after the Android update, Google+ for iOS has caught up with other versions of the service as well. Google+ 4.4.0 for iOS enables the app to do everything its Android counterpart is capable of doing; you get automatic enhancement for posted photos, the ability to edit past comments, and support for automatic hashtags for posts.
When trying to upload a photo, don’t expect to see the new ‘Auto Enhance’ option anywhere; the app automatically tinkers with your photos to apply that as they are being uploaded. If you don’t like the changes though, simply long-press the posted image to invoke the options menu, and toggle the Auto Enhance feature off from there. An enhanced photo can be compared with its original version by tapping the icon located in the top-right corner of the app’s image viewer.
Apart from enhancing photos, Google+ also manages them pretty well in the latest updates. We discussed the ‘Highlights’ feature in detail in our review of Google+’s web service update, and the feature serves an identical purpose in the iPhone app. To make sure users get to access their photos more efficiently, Google+ shows the Highlight view of their collection, which includes a mixture of recent and popular posts.
Google+ for iOS finally supports animations and panoramas. Whatever you post from the app gets tagged automatically, just like in the web version. You can also browse through these tags using the search button or by tapping a tag shown next to any post.
As Hangouts now have an app of their own, the feature has been taken away from the Google+ app for iOS. Its entry is still there in the main menu, but it merely contains a link to the new app’s download page.
With the latest Google+ update, you get the distinct impression that the service now grants its users a greater level of control over their feeds. You can easily control the number of ‘What’s Hot’ posts that show up on the main page each day, the permalinks for all posts shared with you can be copied, and using the small gear icon below posts, it is now possible for posters to edit their past comments. The Google Offer posts in the stream have a nice interactive touch to them as well.
If you want to completely switch to your iPhone or iPad to use Google+, the app’s better profile editing options are sure to help. Not only can more fields be handled without having to go to the service’s web version, it is also possible to upload a new cover photo from the app.
Google+ is a free and universal app. The removal of Hangouts and making it a separate app might appear to be a bit of a shortcoming to some users but since the new app is really great (and free), you shouldn’t have much trouble moving on.