So Google+ has been out for a few days now and everyone is still scrambling for an invite from anywhere and anyone!
And while most people have been focusing on the here and now I think it is important to see how Google+ can transform Android of the future. With 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich round the corner the focus has been what kind of new features we will be seeing and what kind of existing features will make it to the phone, but no-one has really discussed what kind of social features should be implemented into Android of the future. There are a range of Android products that could greatly benefit from a social layer and existing products that have that layer but need to be brought into the Google+ fold.
It is also important to note that Apple made a big play for the Cloud when it announced iOS5 and Google can do that and more with Google+. Here are a few things I would like to see.
With the release of the Google+ mobile app a nice feature was added to be able to instantly upload photos on your phone to the cloud and your Google+ profile. In the future I would expect that this feature would be built into the Gallery and possibly even the Camera app itself rather than the Google+ app. It would be very convenient to have the Gallery application be the hub of photos on your phone allowing you to see photo’s on your phone, on your Google+ account in the cloud and photos of you from your friends profiles. You would be able to see/reply to comments, add locations,edit details and choose which circles see your photo’s making it so much easier than any solution around at the moment. It would also be nice to see a range of photo editing options before you upload them (like PicPlz offer).
Future versions of Android could blur the line between contacts with phone numbers and contacts with Google+ accounts. With future versions, your contact app would have both stored on their with their profile picture, possibly showing their latest status update and possibly even an indicator showing if they are in a hangout or not that you can join. Delving into their contact page would bring up profile information including their timeline mobile/email address or if thy are available for Google Talk/Huddle. You would be able to view photos, videos and everything else in that circle.
3. Google Talk/Huddle/Hangout
Could Google create Google Talk into a messaging app like BBM or iMessage except more? Even though Google released Huddles for Android I would expect Google Talk to be brought into the fold at some point in the future which would be awesome. Like iMessage, Google Talk would allow communication between phone, tablet, chromebook or laptop/desktop. Of course it can do that now but not many people seem to use it and if it were re-positioned as a text message replacement service tied to Google+ accounts it would become much more popular as people you are friends with would automatically appear on your list. Except with the added bonus of Circles you could choose who see’s you online and who doesn’t. The biggest benefit though would be that if you are on the computer and receive an instant message you could start the conversation there and finish it on a tablet or phone with ease. You could even add more people and create a Huddle, or just create a Huddle from scratch, or even join a Hangout using your phone or tablet (providing it has a front facing camera of course). It might even be more convenient as well to be able to send texts to people from inside the Talk app, if you are not on 3G or WiFi then it could default to sending a standard text making that whole experience a lot more streamlined and easy for people.
4. Google Books/Music/Movies
I really like Goodreads/IMDB/Youtube(for music) and a similar social element could be added to Google Books/Music/Movies as well. The ability to update your book progress would be good especially when engaging in conversations with people who have read the same book as you! The ability to comment on your favourite books/songs/movies would also be good. It is a shame that Googles movie rental service is not more like Youtube as the ability to comment, rate and see stats is what helps make it so good. Being able to rate and comment on Books/Movies/Music inside their respective apps would be a good feature as well as being able to get recommendations on future books to read based on your own likes and specific Circles would be good as well. Infact if Google where just to buy Goodreads and integrate it into Google+ that would be great for me.
I am sure there is a lot to be said for how Google could be integrating Youtube into Google+ but personally I would like to see it possible to share videos with Circles, easy upload to Youtube through the camera or video app and like with the gallery suggestion, the ability to see comments as well as ratings and stats. With the new Video editor app included with Honeycomb this would make it more convenient to do everything from your Android device instead of going from device to computer to editor to uploader. Maybe you could even share clips with your friends for them to use with footage they got with their camera for the ability to produce a more interesting video.
6. Google Maps/Earth/Places
I know it is already possible to get a location added to a status update but it would be good to be able to have a social layer added to Google Maps as well. The ability to see pins on maps of friends near you (if they want to be seen), or of their comments of places they have been would be nice to see, maybe you want to go to a restaurant but your close friends gave it a bad review and recommended somewhere else with directions included as well, that would be very useful. The ability to check in from the map app would be good as well. Through checking in at places you could also get special details as well similar to Foursquare and let certain Circles see where you are for an impromptu meet up.
7. NFC/QR Codes/Barcode Scanning
This one is pretty straightforward. An easy, no thrills way to share contact information with new people, or share a photo, or maybe even a video clip. It could also be an easy way to check into a shop or restaurant. Lets say you use NFC on a movie poster of a phone currently in theaters, you could quickly pull up your friends reviews or thoughts on the film. you could also scan a books barcode to get the same type of information.
8. Android Market/Chrome Web Store
With Market/Web Store integration it would be a lot easier to find relevant apps. You could recommend apps to friends or see their reviews at the top of any apps you are looking at. I think we can all agree seeing reviews from your friends is more preferable to spam cooments or the occasional idiot.
9. 3rd Party Apps/Games
Lastly what of other companies. Could Video chat app be allowed to have access to Google Hangouts? Would Gameloft games allow easy access to update your status on your gameplay? In fact with social gaming becoming bigger and bigger it would be wise to have part of Google+ reserved for gaming in order to compete with Microsoft’s Xbox integration and Apples Game Center
This is everything I can think of so far but I am sure that are a lot more ways Google can integrate Google+ into Android (especially on Android TV’s). Hit the comments below if you have any additions.