The final part of our journey comparing the ins and outs of Google+ and Facebook ends at one very important place: the mobile scene. While anyone can jump on a computer to access the full blown websites for either service, the mobile accessibility for each platform is what most people on the go are really curious about. Both services offer a myriad of apps across the big mobile playgrounds of today, but how do they stack up? Let’s have a peek at who offers what and if these apps stand up to the test of quality that we expect as users.
Facebook for mobile is maturing but still rough around the edges
The 500 pound gorilla that is Facebook has a lot of bark, but the bite may not be as substantial. The most recent foray into mobile for Facebook hit the iPad this past week, but the launch of the first proper “app” for the iPad has been a PR nightmare to say the least. According to websites like TheWeek.com, reports of nasty bugs that both necessitate reinstalls of the app, as well as other random issues, is just hard to take in this far into Facebook’s life. Leaving alone the fact that the iPad has been on the market for nearly two years now, to get such a taste of “too little, too late” for the device is dissapointing. You can download the app for iPad from the App Store on iTunes, but beware – it’s a minefield for issues.
Speaking of minefields, the latest update for Facebook for the iPod and iPhones has run into similar problems. I myself have been hearing reports of friends’ phones becoming unusable or bricked from the app, which is not great for the social networking platform of choice. The app for these devices is pretty robust (putting current bugs/issues aside) and offers most of the core functionality of the website. I have an iPod Touch which is used at work and the app happens to serve me well on this device. I have noticed that updates are slow to refresh at times, with some notifications refusing to go away even after being opened. In this regard, my BlackBerry app for Facebook tends to work out a tad better.
For those users on BlackBerry, you have the beauty of an official app that is co-hosted by RIM as one of their so called “Super Apps.” It does live up to its name for the most part, and barring the sluggishness of the BlackBerry OS in general, the app does an above average job of duplicating the Facebook experience. I’m not sure if this is provider specific, but at least on Tmobile my notifications are a bit delayed at times but this doesn’t happen often.
Android has an app as well that mimics much of the iOS and BlackBerry apps, but from what I have seen in person from friends’ phones, the app doesn’t have the larger bugs seen on iPhone right now. The app is feature rich and while it doesn’t blow anyone away, it serves its purpose just swell.
Google+ comes out of the gates kicking and abound with innovation on mobile
To sum up the presence of Google+ on the mobile side of things, one can say that its breadth is not as deep as Facebook’s, but the platforms they do cover are well done and polished (to a decent extent). Google opened up Google+ from the start with Android and iOS apps on top of mobile web browser compatible with nearly EVERY platform out there. While I am a bit saddened that the BlackBerry has been neglected by Google, the mobile browser access I can receive is adequete for the light browsing I do on the service from my phone.
The real shining star on Google+ is its dedicated iOS and Android app. All around the web, various reviewers have been raving about what Google did with their mobile apps for Google+. SocialBeat put both apps through their paces, and PC World claims that the mobile app is superior to Facebook’s offerings by far. The dedicated app allows for Huddles on the go, which is a neat way to group chat with friends which Facebook has no real counter-offering to. Facebook’s approach to chat is based around a theory of how people used to IM yesteryear, focusing around discussions between only two people. Google+ took chat to the next level right off the bat and realized that groups want to communicate, not just users one-on-one.
Google+ is also working on the iPad via the same app that is available for iPhone, but with the enlarged screen that is customary of “not-yet-ready-for-primetime” apps. It’s a decent carrot for iPad users on Google+, but no replacement for a native resolution app. Google should be releasing a full blown iPad app soon, proving that Apple “approves” it for the App Store. Knowing how Apple gave Google Voice a run for the money on getting approval, I will wait to see it before I believe it.
Who wins the mobile war? Depends on which battleground you happen to have a stake in
To be clear, there doesn’t appear to be one sole winner in the mobile arena. For this ongoing war, both sides seem to be throwing punches and retreating when necessary. Depending on your device of choice, your mobile offering varies greatly. In general, iPad users are out of luck for both services. While the iPad has a true Facebook app as of this last week, the app itself is too buggy to proclaim usable just yet. Google has only given iPad users an enlarged iPhone app, which while useful, isn’t practical right now.
iPhone users have both sides covered pretty well with Facebook having a mature enough app that can be considered stable, and Google+ also has an app that has been squashing bugs since its release back in July. BlackBerry users only have love on the Facebook side with a dedicated app, but for Google+ they will have to login to the service using their mobile browser.
Your best bet at this point is to watch and see what happens with this myriad of app offerings. While Facebook has the definite early lead on app development, Google+ seems to be ready and willling to dethrone the king with a slew of apps that are aimed primarily at the growing community of Android phone (and soon a large number of Android Tablet) users. Give the apps a run and see what you think – but don’t be shocked if you see some radical updates from both sides come this Xmas time, seeing as the holiday rush will be spurring sales of devices for each camp.