Google+ has always prided itself as being a more natural way to share things on the web. So users of the Android Google+ application have always found it pretty strange that they got the short end of the stick when it came to sharing content from other applications. When attempting to share a YouTube video, for example, the mobile app would simply paste the full, ugly, URL into the post.
But today, the Google+ Android app finally got the much needed update to bring it’s sharing capabilities in line with its desktop peer.
When you share content via the Google+ application, it will now look like it does from the desktop. In other words, things like URLs and links to YouTube videos will get a thumbnail and short description at the bottom of your post. Users will no longer have to deal with URLs in the post body, which would occasionally break Google+ depending on how long they were.
The lack of proper sharing in the Google+ Android app has always driven me crazy, and I’ve often found myself attempting to make a mental note to remember to share something when I get home, simply because I didn’t want people viewing my posts to have to deal with the broken mess that the mobile app would have made of it.
Another big improvement to the Android application is the inclusion of proper hashtag support. Google+ has used hashtags since early on, but when viewed via the mobile app, they weren’t parsed into clickable links: making them completely pointless to mobile users.
Unfortunately, while you can now see and click on hashtags from the Android application, you still can’t create them. More acccurately, you can certainly type in a hashtag from the mobile app, but it lacks the auto-complete that you get on the desktop version of Google+. So you can manually enter a hashtag if you want, but you will have no way of knowing if it’s a hashtag anyone else is actually using. For popular terms this isn’t such a big deal, but it’s a bit of an annoyance if you aren’t 100% sure what you want to tag a post as.
With these latest updates to the Android app, and the massive overhaul the desktop version of the Google+ site has gotten, Google is clearly trying to create a more streamlined and cohesive experience for Google+ users. As Google+ begins to gain mainstream acceptance and exposure, these moves are coming at a perfect time. Though making radical changes to Google+ can also alienate new users, so Google will need to be careful with how they handle sweeping changes moving forward.