For users of Apple's iPhone or T-Mobile's G1, you're probably well aware when something changes on that touch-screen of yours because you use it so much. Yet perhaps because you use it so much you may not pick up some of the more subtle changes.
Google has been steadily improving the way search results are rendered on the iPhone. Last month, Google said it was making changes to jazz up the processing speed for search results and change the way they are rendered on an iPhone.
You've probably noticed results are now formatted to be displayed on the screen so you don't have to zoom or scroll from left to right except with the most challenging Web applications.
Previously, this worked only when you manually went to Google.com in the Safari browser. Now, the new results page will appear when you use the default Google search box in the Safari browser, according to Search Engine Watch. These speedier new results are currently available in U.S. English for Android and for iPhone and iPod touch devices with firmware 2.x.
More importantly, Google said it just added this capability for Android devices; users can search the new results page via the search widget on the Android home page or also through Google.com. See the pics for both the new iPhone search and Android search pages here.
Unless you have a G1 or one of those developer-only SIM-unlocked gadgets, this tip won't do you much good. But make no mistake that from a competitive standpoint, it is crucially important for Google to keep an equal if not greater innovation pace for Android devices and the iPhone, the leading smartphone with over 13 million users.
I expect a lot more Android-based devices in 2009, from Motorola, Sprint and others, so Google needs to make sure its Web services run on those gadgets at an optimum level, or else Android has no hope of challenging the iPhone. When Google unveiled voice search on the iPhone but not on the G1 last month, I wondered what disadvantage it could put the Android devices at.
Google can't afford to cultivate the negative attention that the RIM BlackBerry Storm is generating, so the company needs to make sure Android is crisp and virtually faultless on whatever it runs on.
There is a major smartphone battle brewing next year; every little edge, including slightly faster or more efficient search results rendering, can make a difference in the war between Apple, Google, RIM, Nokia Symbian and Windows Mobile.