Why Android 4.0 MUST Come with Google Plus Fully Integrated
If you have been within ten feet of the internet over the last week or so, you have most likely heard the words “Google Plus”, “Google Hangout”, and “Circles” mentioned at least a few thousand times. The reason is that Google has finally succeeded, or so it seems, to crack the code of creating a sticky and intuitive social network that might very well steal a few hundred million users from Facebook.
“Might” is the key word in that sentence because there are so many variables that can make or break Google Plus as a social networking leader. The primary variable is mobile. How will Google Plus offer the same rich experience it provides on the desktop to the hundreds of millions of users who utilize their mobile devices as the primary access point for Web navigation and social engagement?
Before we get into the question of future mobile Google Plus integration, allow me to tell you a short story. Last night, I was minding my own business doing the same thing I have done every night this week, reading my Google Plus stream. At one point, I saw an update that someone I had added to my circles had started a hangout, which if you are not familiar is a video chat of up to ten participants. I quickly looked who the person was as I recognize most people in my circles immediately, but this was not someone I knew. Turns out it was the Director of Engineering at Google, who I had added to my circles at one point or another. Of course, I jumped in to hangout with him.
Turns out he was testing out the Hangout platform and basically conducting real time crowd sourced QA with members of the Hangout session. We “Hung out” for 20 minutes or so, in which we all gave feedback on bugs, requested future features, and asked a lot of questions about where the technology is going. It was awesome and so Google-like.
Why am I telling you this? Because the first question I asked him was “When will Google Plus become an integral part of the Android operating system? His response was that he cannot talk about future features but this is something there is a lot of demand for. That got me thinking that in order to succeed, Apple has to approve the Google Plus app asap, Google must develop native apps for other platforms such as Windows Phone 7, BlackBerry, and even Symbian, but the most important thing I thought was that future versions of Android must come with full Google Plus integration, and for so many reasons.
We discussed in the past what some of the major trends we will see in the world of mobile in the coming years, but there is no question that social integration is one of them. But forget the future, let’s talk about now. iOS5 has Twitter deeply integrated into the OS and your Twitter contacts can be imported into your phone book, your photos can be shared easily on Twitter with one click, and notifications come in faster than you can say “Twitter”.
OK, so Apple has done the social thing. Let’s move on and take a look at Facebook. Faceboo for iPhone is the most downloaded iOS app of all time and today, in just a few hours, Facebook is expected to announce a partnership with Skype that will offer Skype video chat capabilities on top of the Facebook platform. In general, the mobile video chat space is smoking hot right now with Skype, Fring, Tango, and Facetime leading the way in terms of innovation. Google must offer a real alternative to Facebook, Twitter, and Apple’s dominance in the space of mobile and social media. Android with integrated Google Plus is the ideal solution.
If you haven’t noticed, the world, or at least the Western part of it, has undergone a serious shift in the way we interact with the Web and each other. The mobile device and specifically the smartphone has completely taken over. The latest numbers show that one in three mobile phones in the US is a smartphone. If we are using our smartphones to interact with the Web via a Web browser and with each other via texting, BBMing and emailing, what better platform than the mobile to create and manage your circles of friends and contacts?
Google already launched its Android app with the built in Huddle feature, which you can learn more about from the video below but again, the natural evolution of a circle-based social graph is to connect it with your mobile surroundings and connections. This will completely close the gap, albeit the small one, that still exists between our mobile phones and our virtual lives. More importantly though, full Google Plus integration on Android will do what many companies, apps, and services have tried and partially accomplished before it. It will eliminate the gap between our virtual existence and our real life engagements and merge your Google plus circles with your social circles in real life.
If you think about the primary use of mobile devices today, apart from texting and calling of course, it is consuming content, and a whole lot of it. How do we do this? We use reader apps such as Flipboard, Hitpad, Flud, Flyscreen, and pulse. We use social apps like Twitter, Facebook, and many others (not referring to the networking aspect now, just the content we read using these apps).
With a solid integration of Google Plus on Android, you can have the most interesting articles on topics your device knows interest you based on your emails, your tweets, or even your location, pushed to you the way emails are pushed. You can have your Google Plus Sparks, which you can read about here, served to you on a silver platter, which just happens to be in the form of a push notification.
Such functionality would theoretically mean the end of many 3rd party apps that are used today by millions of people worldwide.
All in all, there is no doubt that Google intends on integrating their new social initiative, Google Plus in to their mobile operating system, Google. The only question is how deep the integration will be and what version of Android will support it. I am betting on 4.0, but don’t forget, 3.2 all the way to 3.9 are also viable options.
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