Let's face it, Google+ is a divisive topic. Depending on whom you ask, it can be either the fastest growing social network of all time or simply a dead man walking. Just about everyone has an opinion about it, including me.
But no matter what you think of it, Google+ is about more than just connecting with friends, especially if you're an Android fan. Specifically, I'm referring to Google+ Communities, which can be a terrific resource for help, inspiration, and topical discussion.
One of the great things about Google+ Communities is that anyone can create them. Be it one person with a passion for a particular subject or a world famous brand with a product to sell, Google+ makes it easy for people to rally behind a shared cause.
I've gathered up a number of Google+ communities which I recommend for Android and other smartphone users. Whether you're brand new to Android and just learning the ropes or looking to dive deep into hacking and modding there's something for everyone.
You just bought your first Android device and you're trying to get a better handle on it. Where to begin? You'll likely need a bit of hand-holding in these early days as you explore apps, games, news, and reviews. To that end, there are some wonderful catch-all communities that speak to a wide Android audience.
To get started, I recommend joining a couple of options. One is handed by the folks over at AndroidCentral, a major player in the news, rumors, and review space; the other is a public venue for a wide assortment of topics. With more than 600,000 members between them, you'll find everything from unboxing pictures and screen shots to benchmark results and industry leaks.
As you'd expect, you'll find a fair share of iPhone and Windows Phone bashing. Drill down by a specific category, though, and you can discover people who genuinely love the platform and want to help others. Need help with app recommendations or have a question specific to your device? Chances are very good that you'll get what you need.
Off the beaten path
Now you're more confident about your smartphone and have a solid understanding of things, let's check out some other fun, Android-related communities that might of interest.
For those who like to take pictures with their smartphones (who doesn't?) and share them with others I suggest Android Photography. Split over categories such as Photo Spheres, Movies, Discussion, and Applications, it's a first-rate destination for established and aspiring shutterbugs.
The Android Collectible community is the perfect venue for those who like to get their hands on Android-inspired products. Although it's largely based around the collectible figures from Dead Zebra, you'll find one-off designs, modifications, and other custom Android swag.
If you're into the wearable and smartwatch space then you might want to swing by Android Wear or Glass Explorers. Both cater to a smaller demographic but each can be invaluable in their own right. You'll find a slightly more technical crowd but one that's also very passionate.
Tweakers and themers
Seasoned and savvier Android users looking to customize their experience often begin by changing the launchers, icons, and widgets of their device.is also an easy way to breathe fresh air into a smartphone or tablet. Fortunately for this crowd, there's an abundance of communities centered around theming.
A few of the more popular Google+ communities dedicated to the minor modification include Android Wallpapers, Android Themes, UCCW: World of Widgets, and Zooper Widget Gallery. Between this quartet you'll find a smorgasbord of inspirational designs, handcrafted widgets, and stunning backgrounds for your Android.
Rooting and modding
If you're the technically inclined and adventurous type, you'll probably dabble a bit in rooting your Android. This, too, is a landscape that lends itself well to Google+ communities.
Some of the more reputable custom ROMs have dedicated communities, including CyanogenMod, and Paranoid Android. This is where you'll encounter a group of hardcore enthusiasts who like to push their Android to new limits. For those who prefer to be on the cutting edge or like to beta test features I suggest swinging by these groups.
It also may be worth digging around some of the more specific categories for the aforementioned communities. Sometimes the best help is a tucked away in a darker corner. If you pay attention to some of the more prolific posters and mods for these communities you can quickly get a sense for where the answers might be hiding.
Some of the best, and largest, communities are designed for Android and other mobile developers. Google+ offers a handful of solid outlets where wannabe coders can rub elbows with more polished teams.
For help in design principles and guidelines I recommend checking Android App Design. At 110,000+ members and growing it's an official Android Developers community. Here you'll find tips, tricks, mockups, screenshots, and other helpful tools for creating the best-looking apps.
The Android Development community casts a wider net and can be integral in addressing bugs or best practices. Need access to an API or want help modifying your code? Google's official community for developing on Android should be stop number one.
And that's not all
These are but a few of the Google+ communities built around Android. Take a closer look and you'll also find that developers have put together their own communities for beta testing applications and games. What's more, wireless carriers, device manufacturers, and other industry brands will occasionally hang out in unofficial gathering places.
Are you using Google+ communities as it pertains to getting more out of Android? If so, what are some of your favorite destinations and resources? Please feel free to leave a comment with your picks below.