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According to a Google (GOOG) employee, Google+ has an official iOS app currently undergoing review by Apple (AAPL) for release in the App Store. The native app should offer more functionality than the current HTML5 Web app, but Google has been known to release less feature-rich versions of its own apps for platforms other than Android. Here are the three features Google absolutely has to include with an iOS offering to make it an attractive proposition for iOS-using Google+ fans.
• 1. Huddle. Possibly the most attractive feature for mobile users of Google+ is its ability to quickly and easily initiate group or individual messaging sessions through Huddle. Huddle is a bit like BlackBerry Messenger (RIMM) and a bit like the Facebook-acquired Beluga. Even though it has its quirks at this stage in the beta, it boasts a lot of potential once the bugs are ironed out. The Web app doesn’t provide Huddle access, so the iOS app had better do that. It probably won’t be available through a separate shortcut, as it is on Android devices (where I think it could potentially replace text-messaging apps for some users), but as long as it’s in the Google+ app, that should be enough to satisfy iOS users.
• 2. Instant Upload. It can’t be baked into the iPhone’s native camera app the way it can on Android handsets, but the iOS app should still have Instant Upload capabilities. All it needs to do is offer in-app access to the camera and the ability to instantly upload photos taken to your Google+ gallery for later sharing. As with Huddle, it will already be sufficiently limited by Apple’s OS restrictions to make the Android version more appealing, so there’s no reason to leave it out.
• 3. Push notifications. E-mail notifications for Google+ can be a little overwhelming. What the service needs are native push notifications on iOS devices. Especially combined with iOS 5, notifications for Google+ will make iOS users that much more likely to continue engaging with the service. The Web app is lacking in this regard because it’s easier to forget about checking Google+ in the absence of targeted reminders that specific activity is taking place.
IPhone owners with early access to Google+ tell me that the official iOS app can’t come soon enough. Here’s hoping that when it does arrive, it doesn’t come with artificial feature restrictions that limit its appeal to Google’s growing crowd of social networkers.
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