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.
[ Is Google+ the best social network? Guy Kawasaki thinks so. ]
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.