The most significant of the features added to these two mobile apps is support for Google+ Communities. Introduced earlier this month, Google+ Communities is similar to Google Groups, although with more sophisticated media sharing capabilities. Communities allows participants in Google's social network to maintain a private or public online gathering place for specific interests.
For Android users, Google+ now supports full-resolution photo uploads via Instant Upload. Using this feature eventually will cost users, however. Google provides just up to 5 GB of free storage for full-resolution images backed up with Instant Upload, whereas the standard option provides unlimited storage for images resized to 2048 pixels on the longest edge. If you want more than 5 GB of storage for full-size photos, you will need to purchase more space on Google Drive.
Google+ for Android version 3.3 also adds integration with Google Now to send birthday greetings to friends; a menu of mood icons to convey how you feel to others; and support for animated GIF images. App users with Android 4.2+ devices gain the ability to create Photo Sphere panoramic images -- users of Android 2.2+ can view them -- and to add a Google+ widget to their device's lock screen.
Both apps gain the ability to:
-- make basic profile edits;
-- subscribe to any Google+ Circle for notifications;
-- specify how many guests you intend to bring to a Google+ Event;
-- duplicate an event;
-- send messages to individual Event guests;
-- see who opened an event you created;
-- invite people to an event by passing a URL in an email; and
-- use different time zones in Events.
In addition to support for Communities, Google+ for iOS 4.0 adds the ability to swipe through photo albums inline and to view images with a tap. There's some aesthetic renovation, too: Pictures in the stream now get a pan-zoom-scale effect; the iOS message composition UI has been improved; and new conversation cards allow longer snippets, larger photos, and comments that slide under posts.
Google+ Hangouts also has been enhanced so it requires less bandwidth and provides more screen space when there's only a single participant.
Since Google launched Google+ in June 2011, it has grown to 500 million accounts, with about half that number counted as active users.
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.