I’ve been playing with the Google+ service on my Android handset to get a sense of what it has to offer on Google’s operating system. I’ve been especially interested in Huddle, the group texting app that is currently only available to those on Android handsets. The verdict: Google made some thoughtful decisions for mobile users for the Google+ service overall, but Huddle isn’t as intuitive as other group texting platforms.
First, the good stuff. Google tries really hard to explain what you will be sharing on your phone and offers you the ability to instantly upload your images and videos to Google+ if you so desire. While that’s a nice ad hoc backup, I didn’t feel comfortable doing so, so I turned that off. Still, sharing an image was as easy as clicking the menu, tapping share and then selecting Google+. I even had the option of sharing location at a varying levels of specificity ranging from not at all to down to my street address. This was cool, but the constant GPS access while I was playing with the service was a real battery suck.
However, if I had elected to instantly upload my photos and videos, Google put some real thought into making sure the process didn’t come back to bite me when my bill arrived. It offers me a lot of options on when and over what networks those uploads should take place as shown in these images.
The Google+ app for Android makes sharing really easy and it’s a nice experience overall. But then there’s Huddle, the group texting app. First, because you must have an Android handset in order to access Huddle, it can be a bit of effort to find some folks to group text. And while it’s easy to find people in Google+ to add them to your Circle (a self-defined group of contacts) and it’s also easy to find them to start a Huddle, once a Huddle exists it’s not fun to add new folks to it. For existing groups, to add new people, you need to scroll through a long list of contacts to find people.
Thus, my group maxed out at three until I randomly invited someone in that I didn’t know thanks to the clunky scrolling and adding contacts feature (or my butterfingers). Then I couldn’t figure out how to delete them. In general the Huddle app works as advertised but I enjoyed using Beluga more as a group text option or even GroupMe. The UI for those apps are much nicer and the entire act of joining and organizing groups was more intuitive.
Those difficulties aside, if you’re going to spend a lot of time playing with and optimizing Google+ the Android app is a great place to start and makes it easy to keep updating while on the go. For those with sharp eyes and a desire to know, I was using an HTC Incredible, and the screenshots are taken on a T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide by my colleague Janko. Check out the gallery below for more.