Google+ for Android App Melts With 'Ice Cream Sandwich'

Google+ for Android gets some sweeping upgrades to help it hew more closely to the Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" design the company has planned.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Oct. 31 said it has overhauled its Google+ for Android application, working closely with the company's Android team to help the app's design hew closely to the forthcoming Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" operating system.

Google+ for Android 2.1 offers a new user interface for posting, better notifications, and navigation and performance improvements. Users may add other users from a Circle from Circle profiles.

eWEEK spent about 15 minutes with version 2.1, which will work for any phone running Android 2.2 Froyo and later. The app rendered photos more quickly than ever before and placed photos in attractive, tile-like rows. Photos in users' Circles also surfaced quickly and Circles loaded within two seconds. The UI appears a little crisper, too.

"We worked closely with the Android team as they developed Android 4.0 (aka Ice Cream Sandwich) so you'll see the same attention to beauty and simplicity in our new design," said Google+ Product Manager Ben Eidelson in a post on Google+. See Eidelson's screenshots of the new app here.

The new app also enables better battery life at a time when native apps can be a drain on smartphone power supplies, several bug fixes, and the ability to sign out of the app,

Finally, there is also now support for Google Apps users. Google made waves last week when it rolled out Google+ support for Google Apps users on the desktop.

IT administrators can now manually turn on Google+ for their corporate employees who use Google Apps for Business or the free version of Google Apps and who have set up their domain to automatically enable new services.

One the desktop, Google+ Hangouts integration with Google Docs makes sense. It's unclear how good that use case will work on the mobile app. Regardless, Google+ for Android has proven to be nothing if not iterative. Version 2.1 comes three weeks after the last, more minor upgrade. Download the new app from the Android Market.

More broadly, Google+ Senior Vice President Vic Gundotra said Google+ will began to coalesce into a more integrated platform with the company's Web services by Christmas.