Every time I test a new Windows Phone handset, I get an inch closer to using one on a long-term basis. Currently my SIM card is in a Lumia 930 that comes pre-installed with the much improved Windows Phone 8.1 software. It includes the new Action Center and Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Google Now and Siri, to name just a few new features.
So, why don’t I use Windows Phone 8.1 as a daily driver?
It typically comes down to missing apps that I need. Until recently, there was still one more work-related app that I use on iOS and Android all throughout the day. Lo and behold, it’s there and has been for nearly a year although I missed the memo: Socialcast arrived for Windows Phone last August. That leaves Google+ on Windows Phone as the lone holdout for me: I’m a heavy Google+ user seven days a week and the G+ experience on Windows Phone is dismal. At least it was until this weekend when I got a Twitter recommendation to try gPlus, a native Google+ app for Windows Phone.
While not perfect, gPlus is a very capable client. Most of the other Google+ apps I’ve found in the Windows Phone store are simply web-based clients wrapped in an app and don’t offer any additional features than using Google+ in Internet Explorer. But gPlus is different: It’s a pure Metro-style app that works far better than using IE.
The software supports the main Google+ stream but you can also read posts from people in your Circles or in Communities, something I often do for various groups such as the Chromebook and Moto X communities. Posts can be created for public viewing or within a Community.
You can post links or photos — images already taken or use your Windows Phone camera for a new snapshot — with gPlus, and you can also view a user’s full profile.
Notifications are one area that still needs a little work. Yes, the gPlus app shows your notifications; tap the notification badge and you can view any unread items. But the gPlus notifications don’t yet appear in the Windows Phone Action Center, so you have to manually check the app for any outstanding comments or +1’s. Compared to the terrible in-browser experience of Google+ on Windows Phone, that’s a small price to pay for an otherwise excellent app.
The app is priced small, too. You can try it out free, but I opted to pay $0.99 for the full client within the first day of using it.
For me, gPlus is well worth the buck, and until a better Google+ client comes along for Windows Phone, I’ll be using it from now on. In fact, I can’t think of any more missing apps that might hold me back from using Windows Phone on a longer full-time basis.
That doesn’t mean Microsoft’s mobile platform has all the apps that you and others need, of course. We all have different requirements and “must-have” applications. But if you were to ask me why I haven’t switched to Windows Phone, I really don’t have a good answer now, thanks to gPlus. Thanks, Rahul, for the app recommendation.