Google's mobile application will now push notifications from Gmail and Google Calendar to the Apple iPhone, with pop-up calendar reminders appearing on the user's homescreen and a Gmail icon badge announcing new e-mail. The Google for iPhone application is available in Apple's App Store.
"We've also added spiffy features to get you information faster-when looking for flight info, weather, stock quotes or currency conversion you'll see answers before you hit 'Search,'" David Singleton, a Google engineering manager, posted Aug. 23 on the Google Mobile Blog.
Commenters on the post lamented the lack of pop-up notifications for new Gmail messages. "If there is no pop-up for e-mail notifications, there really is no point to this app," one wrote. "I get badge updates on the native mail app already."
For some users, however, the new icon badge could assist in keeping their Gmail entirely separate from their other e-mail interfaces-something not possible if Gmail is filtered, along with other e-mail accounts, through the iPhone's native e-mail application.
The tighter integration between Google's key mobile services and Apple's smartphone platform seems a minor irony, considering how fiercely the two companies are battling for mind and market share. According to estimates, about 200,000 Android-equipped smartphones ship per day, while Apple managed to sell about 1.7 million iPhone 4 units during the device's first weekend of release and claims that demand still runs high.
Gartner recently estimated the 2010 market for mobile applications at $6.2 billion, a tempting honey pot for both companies. Earlier in August, reports emerged that Google was negotiating with PayPal to let Android users pay for their mobile applications using the service. Meanwhile, Apple reportedly hired an expert in NFC (near-field communication) technology as its new product manager in mobile commerce.
The mobile competition has expanded to other areas, as well, with Apple's iAd mobile-advertising platform squaring off against Google and AdMob. According to data from Millennial Media, an independent mobile ad platform, more than 55 percent of July's total mobile ad impressions went to the iPhone, while Android took 19 percent. That was good enough to power Android past Research In Motion's BlackBerry, which had 16 percent.
And a research note from Shaw Wu at Kaufman Bros. hints that Apple is negotiating with Verizon to bring the iPhone to the carrier's network in order to blunt Android's momentum: "What better way to do that than where Android has seen the majority of its success?"