Google Apps for the iPhone Get Faster, Better

Search, Gmail, Calendar, Reader, Docs and Picasa, easier to use via a touch screen, the hallmark of iPhone's success.

Just over a month after launching Google Apps tailored for the iPhone, Google celebrated the first day of Macworld in San Francisco by adding more speed and an improved user interface to its applications stack Jan 14.

Google said in a statement the applications, including Search, Gmail, Calendar, Reader, Docs and Picasa, are easier to use via a touch screen, the hallmark of iPhone's success.

Google users only need to sign in once to access their Gmail, Calendar, Reader, Docs, and Picasa accounts. Users can also now customize the default tabs so their applications appear on the menu bar.

One of the major selling points of the iPhone is that it lets users access the Internet and run applications with an experience that closely resembles the way users would run such software on a PC. Before the iPhone, users complained that accessing the Internet and other applications on smartphones was clunky.

Vic Gundotra, a vice president of engineering for Google who focuses on Google's mobile applications development, has said he is enamored of the iPhone because it hews to Google's desktop-oriented vision of how the company would like its software to run on a smartphone.

"Innovators like Apple are doing a great job of moving that Web platform on their mobile devices up," Gundotra told eWEEK Dec. 12. "Apple and Google deeply care about moving the Web forward, and as they become more successful, we will be, too."

To wit, Google users can now access their iGoogle gadgets, mini-applications such as weather reports, stocks and news feeds, on the iPhone.

Also, new e-mails will automatically show up so there's no need to manually refresh inboxes, and a new auto-complete feature makes composing e-mails faster than ever. Google Calendar also boasts a new month view, letting users glance at an entire month of appointments.

Google said in the statement it plans to duplicate the new user experience of its Apps to international versions of the iPhone and to other platforms that offer similar usability and browser capabilities. No timetable has been set for this yet.

Those who want to see a demonstration of the newly optimized Google Apps for the iPhone may stop by Google's booth (number 1268 in the South hall) at 10:30 PDT every day this week except Tuesday, when Google staffers will show their wares at 11:30 PDT.