Google+ for iPhone is a clean and intuitive mobile app that has all of the powers of its desktop counterpart, save for the games and a few other minor features. The latest update to the app (as reported by Josh Lowensohn) adds a newly redesigned visual interface for Stream and other notable enhancements.
The Google+ app opens up to the redesigned Stream interface, but a button at the top left takes you to a dashboard of icons leading to the different sections of the service: Stream, Messenger, Photos, Profile, and Circles. Despite the new look, the interface works much like the full desktop version of Google+, and navigating the app is very intuitive.
Stream is really the lifeblood of Google+. By default, this section of the app displays feeds for All Circles, Nearby Google+ users (based on your GPS location), and Incoming posts. Additionally, you can add your own feeds if you want to keep tabs specifically on family, co-workers, and so on. To move between feed views, simply tap the title of the current feed at the top in the center and choose which Circle you want to look at. In the latest update to the app, Google gave Stream a complete graphical overhaul, incorporating large images from posts that load smoothly as you scroll through your feeds. It's hard not to like the new layout, and it seems likely it will get more users to check the app on a regular basis just to browse the richly colored images and video.
Within your Stream, you can do almost everything you can on the full desktop version of Google+. Touch an image to get a preview of the story, where you can easily comment on and +1 items. You can also easily create your own posts with pictures, videos, and location tags by touching the pencil icon in the upper right. You can join an active Hangout if you come across one in the stream or create a new one by starting a conversation with Messenger, adding up to nine people, touching the camera icon, and then touching the Hangout button.
Along with Hangout features, Messenger lets you chat with one or more of your Google+ connections from a single panel. You can add photos to your conversation, either from your album or directly from your iPhone photo library. Messenger is dead simple to use and has tons of potential when it comes to coordinating with friends.
As expected, this is the hub for all of your photos and videos. It provides a simple interface for viewing and commenting on items from your circles, items you're tagged in, and all of your own album items. Unfortunately, unlike the desktop version of Google+, the app doesn't let you share, add tags to, or download items that aren't in the "From your phone" album.
One thing we love about the Google+ app is that it includes an Instant Upload feature, which automatically backs up pictures and videos taken on your iOS device while the Google+ app is open and shortly after it's closed. By default, these items go into the private "From your phone" album, where you can easily access and share them at your convenience. Of course, you can disable Instant Upload if you're worried about battery drain, but we think it's a convenient feature that should be taken advantage of.
Here, you can see your Google+ public profile page, all of your posts, and all of your photos. Unfortunately, you cannot edit any of your profile information (except for your photo) from the Google+ app, which is a minor letdown.
This section of the app lets you view and manage all of your Google+ Circles just as you can on Google+ desktop. You can easily view posts and photos for individual Circles, create new Circles, and move people between Circles. The experience here is very much the same as it is on the desktop.
Overall, we think the Google+ app provides an excellent way to interface with the Google+ social space while on the go. Though it does appear to be missing a few features, given how young the app is, we are confident that Google is on its way to porting them over. If you use the Google+ service at all, or if you're just curious about the social network set up by Google, we highly recommend this download.
Editors' note: CNET's Jason Parker contributed to this review.