Google Unveils Mobile App in Time for Apple's iPhone 3G
Just about every software maker that wants to plant a stake in the mobile market today unveiled applications in anticipation of the launch of 3G for the Apple iPhone.
Apple said in a statement that more than 500 native applications will be available through its iPhone App Store when the iPhone 3G goes on sale tomorrow, July 11.
This being Google Watch, I'm going to start with a note about Google's contribution to the iPhone 3G effort. The company today unveiled its first native app for the iPhone and iPod Touch in the form of Google Mobile App.
From the demo video in this blog post, the app is as efficient and rewarding as you'd expect Google to produce at this stage in the company's life. There is a single text box from which to search your contacts and the Internet.
Also, Google has borrowed from the predictive text completion of desktop search apps, so that as soon as you start typing, the apps offers search result suggestions so you don't have to type everything out. These results include keywords, Web sites and previous searches.
Moreover, Mobile App invokes some collective intelligence, logging the activities you use the most and putting them at the top for easier access.
Google Product Manager Robert Hamilton did a search using Google Mobile App on the iPhone for "baseball" and the app offered him options such as www.baseballhalloffame.org and www.baseball-reference.com. He also searched for "NFL" and the app offered him NFL.com as a site suggestion.
Hamilton also searched through his contacts and the folks he interacts with most frequently popped up first, also thanks to the predictive text completion.
The software also uses Google's My Location feature to note your current location and show nearby businesses.
Users who want this free app need only tap the App Store icon on their iPhones, or open iTunes and search for "Google Mobile." Also, Google Mobile App is currently only available in the U.S. App Store.
I've written often about what a great deal of sense it makes for Google to optimize its apps for the popular iPhone. Right now, I still agree with that position.
The more users who leverage Google search and apps on the iPhone, the greater Google's mobile online advertising penetration will be. There are millions of dollars to be grabbed here.
But while propping up its ad coffers and Apple's iPhone, Google must take care to keep Android moving forward, or it will risk losing out on grabbing more mobile market share in a highly competitive space.
Nokia, owning all of Symbian now, is in a fine position, but Google needs to work against Microsoft, Yahoo and Apple to corral mobile market share.
It's more than that. Other popular app providers, such as Facebook, are also looking to leverage the iPhone.
Facebook today also got in on the action with its own native Facebook for iPhone app. Facebook claims this is different from Facebook's iPhone Web site because the application has access to more technology.
For example, users can take photos with the iPhone's camera and upload them instantly to their Mobile Uploads album on Facebook. Facebook for iPhone also includes Facebook Chat, letting users send instant messages to their friends.
While Google's My Location already works for its Google Mobile App for iPhone, Facebook said it is still looking for ways to let users opt to share their location and discover nearby friends.
Facebook for iPhone works with the original iPhone, iPod Touch and iPhone 3G. The app can be downloaded for free from Apple's App Store on an iPhone or iPod Touch, or through iTunes.
Web service providers aren't the only vendors looking to ride the iPhone 3G gravy train. Oracle and Salesforce.com rolled out apps for it today.
Clearly, Google has no shortage of competition as it seeks to lobby users to use its mobile apps on the iPhone. Just as with traditional desktops, the best user experience rules the roost on handheld gadgets.
Win the crowd and Google will win a fat share of the mobile space.