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Google+ gets update for iPhone and a new iPad version

At the Google I/O event at the end of last month, Google announced updates to Google+ and said that the features would come to iOS soon. Today the new features are ready for both the iPhone and iPad.

Using the button at the top center, you can browse through your circles or by What's Hot and activity Nearby.
Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Built as a Universal update, Google+ version 3.0 adds new features to the iPhone app and is the first version that is made for the iPad with its own unique interface features.

On both iOS devices, you'll now be able to create and manage Google Events. You can create an event, manage comments, add photos, and see who is coming to the event. All the info from past events is saved as well, so you can go back and revisit them later.

Google Hangouts are now supported on both iOS devices as well, which means you'll be able to start and participate in Hangouts from wherever you are. Video chat supports up to nine friends and -- once set up in the settings -- will notify you when friends join or ring their phone to remind them to join.

Google+ iOS
Touch the upper-left button to bring up the menu where you can start Hangouts, edit your profile, and other actions. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

The iPad version of Google+ is a joy to use with an intuitive interface layout that makes it easy to browse through circles and what's hot. You can use the app in either portrait or landscape views, and Google+ displays photos and headlines of posts with big tiles that you can swipe to browse or touch to read more. In the upper right you have a button to create a new post, with options for text, uploading a photo, or "checking in" by posting your location. In the upper left you can touch a button and slide out a menu that lets you navigate the main features to tweak your Profile, start a Hangout, find people with similar interests, and app settings. You also get all the latest notifications from other users -- great for going back and checking notifications you've missed recently.

The way Google+ organizes your circles is also intuitive in the new app. At the top-center of the interface on the Home screen, you can touch to bring up a drop-down menu to browse your created Circles, and also What's Hot currently on Google+ and activity from users nearby your location. The new app offers some nifty animations whenever your browse through tiles or switch circles, with an animated drop-in type of effect as each post loads. The overall UI experience was greatly improved on the iPhone in May this year, but with these new feature editions and a smart layout on the iPad, Google+ is bound to get more users actively participating in the service.

Google+ iOS
To start a Hangout you can browse through pictures of people in your circles or use the search box at the top. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

The Google+ update is available today for free at the App Store. If you were happy with the updated iPhone app in May, I think you'll really like what has been done to improve the app and the unique experience on the iPad.