Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

Also not on the topic of the article, but...

I wish people would stop blogging on Google plus. Period.

It's the worst reading experience ever on the iPhone - nearly impossible as the text blurs, and you have to drag the article around to see it all and then wait for the blur to go away.

Does the iPhone not open Google Plus posts in the Google Plus app? Or do you not have it installed? The reason your experience is awful is because Google doesn't care to make the G+ mobile web experience perfect since their app is the way to go.

On Android, when I click one of these links it opens the app and the reading experience is very pleasant. Maybe I've just been spoiled, but I find the experience to be pretty good.

Edit: Also, I think it's kind of silly that you wish people would stop publicly posting on Google Plus due to your phone experience being subpar. I think the problem lies much more with you and your phone than it does with Google Plus as a writing platform.

Should you need a third party app installed for a good reading experience? I don't use Google+ and don't want the app on iOS, even if it was launched when I click a Google+ link (which, fwiw, you are correct: it currently does not).

(On the other hand, Tumblr looks great on mobile, and it doesn't need an app. Facebook, too, is at least readable on their mobile site.)

Does anyone actually use Tumblr for original content, or for that matter, text? 99% or more of the Tumblrs I've seen are just people recirculating other Tumblr photos.

The vast majority of all tumblr traffic is porn.

Tumblr always looks terrible with 68pt headings on my Android browser.

It seems like a fair complaint that G+ should have a better mobile experience, not so fair to demand to not post on G+ anymore.

I was actually going to comment that I find G+ a great experience for these kinds of posts... oh well.

Can you imagine using Facebook without an app now?

The current Facebook mobile site is almost 1:1 with their app (on Android, anyway). I wouldn't surprised to know the app is one giant WebView with a few system hooks sprinkled in.

Yea pretty sure it is. David Fetterman gave a talk at F8 about how they approach it. I think the vid is online somewhere, but here's the transcript. http://www.readwriteweb.com/mobile/2011/09/how-facebook-mobi...

I don't even have it installed on my iPhone. I use the mobile site.

I never understood why websites created apps of their websites. The browser is ubiquitous. Use it. I don't want to install seven different apps for my seven favourite sites. I don't see why this is acceptable on a mobile platform any more than it would be on a desktop platform.

Oh come on. It's a textual web page. There's no good excuse why it shouldn't be reasonably usable in any web browser made in the last 10 years.

"It's your fault for not using the Google Plus App to view the page" is tantamount to saying, "It's your fault for not using IE6 to view the page."

I agree. It actually looks quite nice in Opera Mobile on Android: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/133910/SC20120112-084903.png

Let me get this straight: You think it's more reasonable for Apple to have to build in special support so requests for webpages on plus.google.com go to the G+ app instead of Safari than for Google to just make their site work on mobile platforms like everybody else on the planet?

You are, as the kids say, straight trippin'.

Well, not exactly. But that is the way that Android works, and it's pretty fantastic. When an app takes an action, it launches an Intent that notifies the OS of the details of that action. The appropriate application is launched (or the user is presented with options, in the case where there are two or more applications that know how to handle that Intent. In this case, it's both the Browser and Google+).

I was mostly asking if iOS had similar functionality, but it appears not.

Yes, but to then go on and say Google shouldn't worry about whether their site is even legible because, hey, it's the user's fault for choosing a phone that isn't based on intents? That's just silly.

But no, iPhone doesn't have that functionality.

I didn't mean to say that they shouldn't worry about it. I more meant that it's probably lower priority, and for an understandable reason. I'm sure they want to fix the web page and I'm sure they will - but the iPhone Safari market share is probably very, very small when looking at the Google+ user stats.

Also, I thought it relevant to mention here that you can indeed read the post very clearly on the iPhone - but a seeming lack of this feature (Intents) in iOS makes this awkward.

I've never developed for iOS, but on my iPhone when I go to okcupid.com it somehow 'redirects' to the okcupid app on my phone. So it seems there is some capability for this built in that website developers can take advantage of.

There is: Apps can register to handle certain URL schemes, so all you need to do is put in a redirect to (for example) "okcupid://profile/109" and, since Safari doesn't handle URLs with the okcupid scheme, the OKCupid app will be asked to open the URL instead. But again, this would require the plus.google.com team to actually implement it.

iOS apps can register foobar:// hooks. If a site redirects to a URI with a custom protocol, it'll wake up the app that's tied to it.

(I'm not sure how they're detecting whether that hook is registered or not, though.)

It looks like they basically ask whether you want to use the site or the app the first time you visit on a device, and if you choose the app, it sends you to the App Store and sets a localstorage setting that triggers a redirect on subsequent visits. (Edit: OK, it's a little bit more sophisticated than that. But I think that's not too far off.)

Mobile Safari does support apps registering custom URL handlers, so google could rewrite the links as gplus:// and they could open in the G+ app. Unfortunately I don't think this behaves nicely if you don't have the content handling app installed since it just errors.

That's correct. If you don't have the app in question installed, you get a nasty "Page could not be found" error. There are hacky and unstable JS tricks you can pull with setTimeout to send the user to the app store if they don't have the app installed, but I haven't heard of any reliable way to deal with this (pretty glaring) failure case.

Even just the ability to suppress the error message would be more or less fine.

How about loading the gplus:// link in a hidden iframe. Then continue to load the page in the browser. If they have the app installed, it will redirect, otherwise the page will just load in the browser.

I'm fairly sure when I tried something like that it popped up a "Page not found" dialog. I may have been doing it wrong though.

But then you have an extraneous page loaded.

So just load up the page (on iOS user-agents) with a big red button up top which allows the user to self-redirect, or default a preference on the G+ profile (if they're logged in).

Reasonable or not, that is the expectation Apple has encouraged iPhone users to hold - every website should have its own app in a way reminiscent of AOL keywords.

Expectation for who? It has never occurred to me to install an app to view a single website. Maybe this is something you do, and therefore think that other people also do.

But you're mistaken. I browse the web using a web browser. Even on my iPhone.

Since I don't own an iPhone, your assumption is incorrect. My spouse and many other non-technical people I know do own iPhones. And it is very common for them to use apps rather than their browser to access web content.

I call shenanigans. Practically every "content" site out there has its own app, and loudly proclaims its existence whenever you visit its site with a compatible device. It's simply not possible that "it never occurred" to you. You can obviously choose not to install a Google+ app if you like. But I don't believe for a minute that you are surprised at the need for it.

That's how Android Intents work, Apps can register to handle domains.

In my opinion, it's a far more elegant solution than encouraging developers to register pseudo-protocols to use in URLs that also result in very awkward interactions if the app's mobile site tries to redirect to the app and it is not installed. (Then again, this gives users a "choice" (!) of whether to open links or Intents in the mobile app or native app.)

Does the iPhone not open Google Plus posts in the Google Plus app?


On Android, when I click one of these links it opens the app and the reading experience is very pleasant. Maybe I've just been spoiled, but I find the experience to be pretty good.

This doesn't happen for me. I have a Galaxy Nexus with ICS, and I have Google+ installed and linked to my account, and this doesn't work - it opens the post in the browser. Is there some magic fairy dust that needs to be sprinkled into my microusb port for posts to be redirected to the Google+ app?

What's much worse, though, is that Google+ posts actually reliably crash the ICS chrome browser - as in 100% of the time. Whenever anyone posts anything on Google+, I have to open it in Firefox to read it.

Clearly Google needs to work on this.

Edit: Also, I think it's kind of silly that you wish people would stop publicly posting on Google Plus due to your phone experience being subpar. I think the problem lies much more with you and your phone than it does with Google Plus as a writing platform.

This isn't really that different than putting the post behind a paywall or some other inconvenient barrier to your audience. It might be a nice writing platform, but I think it's a pretty lousy reading platform.

> I think the problem lies much more with you and your phone than it does with Google Plus as a writing platform.

The problem definitely lies with Google Plus as a web app. Whatever they're doing, it's just not a very good experience on a mobile device. Maybe on Android they redirect Google+ pages to their native app, but they don't even offer a way to do that for other platforms even if you have the native app installed (even a simple link on the page that opens it in the native app would be fine). It seems obvious that they're actively trying to promote their own platform over all other reading experiences, which is a radical departure from the ideals of the web that Google has historically cared about.

I don't think a conspiracy is obvious at all. I think this is just a common Google problem; when you hire A+ level talent they don't want to spend their time adjusting css for every platform. That's not an interesting problem to them; self-driving cars is interesting.

This is why I think every company should hire B and even a few C+ level talent. Someone has to do the boring details.

It's not a simple matter of CSS. I have no idea how, but Google+ on MobileSafari periodically dumps the entire tile cache and forces it to re-render (which is why the text goes all blurry). I've never seen that on any other website, ever.

  I think this is just a common Google problem; when you hire A+
  level talent they don't want to spend their time adjusting css
  for every platform.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought that the criteria for defining A+ talent is people that (in short): Defines correct specs for a given project; does the jobs to the specs; Works fast; Makes the code as maintainable as the situation may require, according to change and growth prospects; Does not waste time in unnecessary or fancy stuff; Communicates well with the team;

In this case, Google plus as a blog, obviously all the platforms are targets. So the CSS should be adjusted for all the platforms, and that must be part of the specs. If you have A+ talent executing, either it will be done, or they haven't implemented that yet according to their priorities, or there is something more unknown to us.

Maybe Google needs some A-level product managers.

Anyway, building a G+ app doesn't exactly require an extra 30 points of IQ and 5 years of school than making a web page display readable.

I think this is just a common Google problem; when you hire A+ level talent they don't want to spend their time adjusting css for every platform.

Maybe they should start using CSS brain teasers in their interviews, then.

Isn't this the plot of Brave New World?

You're being down voted, but I wondered something similar in the thread about broke FB and Twitter APIs from the other day.


I'd be surprised if you could easily go from an Mobile Safari (or another iPhone browser) to the Google+ app when you click on a Google+ post. The way that works on Android is via Intents and, AFAIK, iOS doesn't have anything like that.

The Google Plus app suspiciously feels like a Webkit wrapper.

It shouldn't be that hard. Serve up basic HTML.

If Google can't do simple HTML after all these years, there's something wrong.

The blurring is a bug in Safari that is sometimes (I haven't investigated the exact cause) triggered when you scroll content below an element with position: fixed

In the case of Google+ that's the navigation bar.

Strangely, I could not trigger the issue when I was reading this post on my iPad. Now either Google has figured out the cause and found a workaround or the stars have somehow aligned correctly for it not to happen this time.

If you double tap on the column of text to zoom in and then scroll past the fixed element it will trigger it in this case. It happens to me on G+ and Techcrunch a lot. (iPad)

I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Google+ is one of the easiest correctly sized columns of text to read on my iPhone.

The following is a screen shot. Do you care to elaborate on what is wrong?


What's especially interesting is that your iphone layout is actually better than G+ on a desktop webbrowser, where the lines are insanely long and do not wrap when the window width is reduced.

Agreed. I actually find it one of the nicer reading experiences on the iPhone considering so many other sites don't wrap properly and make me scroll sideways to read each sentence.

I also don't get any of the blur mentioned when scrolling.

Try pinch zooming. Made it all blurry for me.

Could you post or email me a screenshot of this? I don't have my iPhone handy to reproduce it but I'll point the right people to this if I can explain it well enough. My handle at google.com.

I tried to take the screenshot, but when it's doing the blurry-loading thing it doesn't let me take the screen shot, and when it does take it, it's right after the page loads. So I guess it's "freezing" while it's trying to adjust the page.

While trying to do this, however, it just crashed Safari twice. I tried the same on my wife's 3GS, crashed Safari as well trying to read the Google Plus post.

Thanks for making the effort!

Unfortunately I don't think there's anything we can do about Safari crashing while taking a screenshot at an inopportune time. Perhaps we can try to find someone on HN who works on at Apple?

I read the article just fine on my iPhone. But when I view a G+ entry on my computer I get a huge "Suspended" notification because I used a slash in my name when I registered.

Not only on the iPhone, but on the Android (sic!) as well. Actually, it's more convenient to use Facebook website than to use Google+ website.

At least on the Honeycomb tablet, can't talk about the mobile phones.

Spacebar to pagedown also breaks randomly, which is the primary way I scroll on a computer.

I used Safari's Reader functionality.

Reader parsed it fine and displayed it beautifully.

> It's the worst reading experience ever on the iPhone

Yup, but it's probably the best writing experience for most bloggers, and also people who don't have blogs. Even if you have one with a decent readership, the engagement you get from Google+ is far higher than anything you can get when people need to use RSS and a reader to follow you.

Yeah, but patio11 would have a field day on streeteasy writing a popular blog post and giving Google all the the link juice. Unless Search Your World means G+ optimization is more important than SEO now?

OMG. Google is pulling a reverse-walled-garden.

And there you've highlighted the issue with Google+. For some reason, people are so determined to see it work that they attempt to shoehorn it to be something that it isn't. Google+ isn't a blogging platform and shouldn't be treated as such. Google themselves own a blogging platform.

I've repeatedly considered building a HN Google+ scraper that grabs the text from Google Plus stuff and throws it onto a more readable cache that won't be blocked by work filters as social networking.

However I'm a little worried about stealing what may be Google's content.

Are you aware that Google's entire business model is based on scraping content from websites?

What causes that text blurring on iOS devices? I've encountered it on TechCrunch as well.

By the way, Hacker News is fairly unreadable on an iPhone because the text is so small text width so great. I haven't found a mobile interface that allows me to log in and comment.

Try Opera Mini. Not everyone likes it on iOS, though, but when you zoom in it will nicely reformat the text so you don't neet to scroll.

There's a paid app called news.yc that is the best HN app out there for iOS. Well worth the 2 bucks.

> It's the worst reading experience ever on the iPhone

Try the new-in-iOS5 "Reader" button in the URL bar.

He should just use my tool so he can host all those posts from his own domain while still posting to Google+: https://github.com/lylepratt/Plusify

I wish people would stop blogging on Google plus. Period.

I wish the same, but for different reason. I can't open Google+ links in office. :(

Why not just tap "reader"? This post is perfectly pleasant to read on my 3gs in reader mode.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact