Google+ Redesign, App Update, Instagram for Android: Coincidence? Hardly

After the Google + redesign came out April 11, our guest writer and reader Shane Brady noticed something interesting. A Google + Android app update suddenly made Instagram for Android work nicely on Google + — and it was terrible before. Coincidence? Shane thinks not.

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When I first downloaded the new Instagram for Android, I was kind of disappointed. It worked automatically with Facebook and Foursquare, but it didn’t work with Google+, my social network of choice these days.  Strange.

So far as sharing pics on Google+ goes, Instagram for Android made me jump through hoops. First you take a pic and apply your filters. You upload it. And then you have to go to the main screen and click on the three-dot menu button.

You hit Share at this point.

And finally you select Google +

It was terrible! Here was my first share on Google+ from Instagram.  All I was able to share was a wonky link and a snarky comment.


I uninstalled the app the same day I downloaded it.

Fast forward a week or so to April 11. Google+ gets a major facelift. I immediately noticed the emphasis on Hangouts and, now with the new clean interface, how much the redesign emphasizes photos and video. Typical for Google, it looked a bit unfinished with the acres and acres of white space at right, for which Google execs said they had “plans.”

So it wasn’t done. I get that. Overall, it was a step in the right direction and I was ready to see how it would go.

Then the other shoe dropped.

On April 12, a full day after the redesign came out, the Google+ app on my Android smartphone displayed a curious notification and update. It was called: What’s New: Improved Sharing Support for Third Party apps.

The first thing I tried was sharing a link from the Google Reader Android app:

Aha!  Finally. It was great to see a share from Google Reader that wasn’t ugly for a change. It worked great. A lot like the desktop version.

Curious to see what it would do, I downloaded Instagram for Android a second time. I shared a pic using the same process I went through before. But this time …

… it worked. Instagram for Android now lets me share my photos on Google+ — and, it turns out, even backs up the originals.

As we await comment from Instagram (purchased yesterday by Facebook) and Google, I’ll give you my theory on what happened. We’ll see if I am right.

Google, of course, knew Instagram was coming to Android for months, right? And it was planning its redesign, too. Knowing that the new Instagram for Android would be optimized for Facebook sharing, Google got smart and worked it into the new UI design, which showcases pictures and videos so beautifully.

My theory even explains the white space. Hang with me here. Maybe, just maybe,  Instagram is an example of the ‘team” content with which Google+ execs promise to fill in the white space. Maybe all that white is there because Google wanted to take advantage of all the Instagram for Android installations — before it finished the redesign.

Whatever the reason, it paid off. Instagram for Android is a hit.

And, while the Google+ interface is still unfinished, pictures and videos look great with it — and Instagram for Android plus the Google+ for Android app integrate perfectly.  The Android app finally fixes sharing from Instagram.

Sure, it purportedly fixes issues for other so-called third party apps. But what outside app is going to be more important for Android than Instagram? People love that app — and Google wants some of the action. There’s my theory.

Coincidence? You think it’s an accident that Instagram for Android, the Google+ for Android app and the Google+ redesign work so seamlessly together? Facebook acquiring Instagram is an unexpected twist — but, as Instagram was prepping for an IPO as recently as last week, that could well be an ironic footnote.

I can’t shake the idea that Google wanted to jumpstart photo sharing on Google+ as quickly as it could. And it did. The three combined work great.

For whatever the reason.

Here in Kansas City, I’m +Shane Brady writing for