Why Millions of People are Hating the Google+ iPhone App Right Now
It has been over three weeks since Google launched their first ever successful social network. How do I know it is a success? Because for starters, everyone is raving about it. Sure, there are some kinks that need working out such as random people showing up in my stream despite the fact that they are not in any of my circles and others, but ten million users in such a short period is impressive. Besides, Google recently announced that the new network already has 10 million users.
We already addressed what Google has to do to bring this social network into the mobile sphere, and the first on the list was releasing an iPhone app. Well, one down, four to go. Apple approved the Google+ app yesterday and Google actually announced it, where else, on Google+ itself. As Punit Soni, one of the people responsible for the new app posted the announcement on Google+, I tweeted it here, and suffice to say, the excitement I saw on Twitter about this new release was unprecedented.
Then the excitement died down and people actually tried to use the app. Talk about disappointment. It was full of bugs and Google recognized that, releasing an update within minutes. Yes, some of the issues were resolved but most were not, and the overwhelming response to the new app is negative. People are hating and here is why.
The new Google+ iOS app is actually not an iOS app. It is an iPhone 3G, 3GS, and iPhone 4 app. It does not work on iPad, in fact you cannot even get the app on iPad. Might be me, but I use apps such as Skype that are not optimized for iPad all the time. Why can’t I even download Google+ on iPad?
How about iPod Touch? Same deal. Even the new generation iPod Touch that is significantly more advanced from a hardware perspective than the iPhone 3g does not have the option to download the new app. I don’t get it.
OK, one more thing on this front. I know iOS5 is still in beta but it is being used by thousands of iOS developers, if not more. Guess what app does not work at all on iOS5? The Google+ app. It crashes constantly on various screens including the main Stream screen. Unusable completely.
Half jokingly, I would say that Google is trying to bring the Android fragmentation problem over to iOS by releasing the app with support for such a small minority of iOS devices.
Update your Profile
Have you downloaded the app yet? Great. Now go ahead and open it and try to update your Google+ profile. You know, the most basic functionality of any social network? Yes, not possible. How is THAT possible? The Google+ app is simplistic in its design, much like Google.com, which is great. The trick with mobile apps and specifically with apps in the social category is to offer a simplistic and intuitive UI but include advanced features and complete functionality. On this front, the Google+ iPhone app fails miserably.
After updating your profile and writing a post, the most elementary functionality of any social network and especially Google+ is sharing. As in sharing a post a friend wrote, a picture someone posted, or a link someone sent you. No way to do that yet on the iPhone app (or the Android app for that matter). That, in my opinion, is just strange.
Speed or Lack Thereof
I thought it was just me experiencing slowness in the app. The experience I saw can only be described as an app that basically took the web interface and wrapped it into a native app.
But then I saw this tweet from the founder of Appsfire, Ouriel Ohayon. He was right, the app was apparently just a wrapper for the Web app, which means a lot of things.
For starters, the app as a whole is slow. It seems to call the Web for every action you try to do, which means longer response times as opposed to complete native functionality, which exists in other apps such as the Facebook iOS app.
Moving along, why is there no integration whatsoever with your phone’s contact book? That is a basic feature found in many native social apps and it is very much lacking here.
Lastly, and this is something related to the UI in general, why on earth does it take 3 clicks to post something on Google+ from the app? For the sake of integrity, the Facebook app is no better on this front and also takes too many clicks to post. Both apps should have a Post option from the home screen.
In conclusion, perhaps I am nitpicking here, but Google knows how important mobile is and that is why they released the Android app alongside the web platform. It seems that they forgot about the 200 million iOS users here and released a half-baked and super simplistic iPhone app that needs major improvements and fast.
Let’s just sum this up with a quote Scoble told me about his thoughts on the iPhone Google+ app. When I asked him about it he said and I quote: “Other than the constant hangs, it’s OK.” What does that say to you? For a guy who has been praising the heck out of Google+ for the past few week and for a guy that is overly obsessed with anything new, shiny, and mobile, the fact that he said it is just ”ok” leaves a bigger impression on me than the constant hangs he is experiencing along with the rest of us.