Google Gmail for Mobile Offers New iPhone, Android Engine

Google updates the mobile version of Gmail running on the iPhone and the Android Web browser to make it faster and more flexible with aggressive caching and the use of new technologies such as HTML5 and Gears. The new Gmail for Mobile comes out April 7. Although Android occupies a relatively small portion of the mobile operating system market at this point, companies such as Samsung are planning to equip upcoming devices with the OS.

Google has equipped the new version of Gmail for Mobile, rolling out on April 7, with technologies that will theoretically allow it to run faster on both the Apple iPhone and on mobile devices equipped with Google's Android Web browser.

The Android operating system is making an appearance on an increased number of smartphones, including three new devices set to debut in 2009 from Samsung. More Android-equipped phones may follow from Verizon Wireless.

According to Google, updated Gmail for Mobile can perform e-mail, Web navigation and searches more quickly than before; in addition, Gmail will also compensate for a shaky data network connection, allowing users to open recently read messages and compose e-mails even if the network drops out.

"All this is achieved with aggressive caching and by leveraging new browser technologies, like HTML5 and Gears," Joanne McKinley, an engineer for Google Mobile, said in a Google Mobile Blog posting. "The full impact of this new architecture isn't visible yet, but it will enable us to significantly improve performance and quickly roll out new features in the near future."

Google has integrated other improvements into the Gmail for Mobile interface. Chief among them is a floating options bar that appears at the top of the screen, allowing the user to archive, delete and perform other e-mail functions without needing to repeatedly scroll up and down. The search menu has been repositioned in the top header.

On the aesthetic front, Gmail for Mobile's labels have been redesigned to more closely match those in the desktop version of Gmail.

When it comes to the iPhone and iPod Touch, however, this new Gmail for Mobile only works with OS 2.2.1 and above; those with an older version will have to rely on the previous version of Gmail for Mobile.

"All Android-powered phones are supported," McKinley wrote. "New Gmail for Mobile is available for English only."