Google Mobile Blog - New and Views from the Google Mobile Team

Better Know Your Mobile: Using My Location and Traffic features on Google Maps

Monday, April 7, 2008 3:05 PM

We've found that a lot of you that use our services like Google Maps for mobile haven't yet tried some of the great features that are available. Well, those days are hopefully coming to an end. Today we're launching a new video series to help you Better Know Your Mobile by showing you some cool tips and tricks for getting information on the go.

If you've ever wondered how to get the most out of Maps for mobile, then this post is for you. These first two videos highlight the My Location and Traffic view features of Maps for mobile. Stuck in terra incognita? Check out the My Location video to learn how you can quickly find yourself on the map. Once you know your approximate location, you can also figure out whether there's traffic nearby using the Traffic feature. We'll even show you exactly what the different traffic colors actually mean.

If there are any features you'd like to learn more about, give us a shout on the blog or video comments - we'll be rolling out more videos in the near future. To browse all of our videos, hop over to the Google mobile help channel. While you're at it, bookmark that channel to catch new videos about using Google mobile.

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Android's First Five Months

Thursday, April 3, 2008 10:20 AM

As some of you may have heard, Wireless Week has chosen the Open Handset Alliance and Android for its Emerging Technology Award, noting that "Android's potential promises openness and innovation, perhaps changing not only the mobile Internet but the Internet itself."

We at Google would like to congratulate all the members of the Open Handset Alliance and the fantastic Android developer community for this well-deserved recognition. Android's growing momentum is the result of an amazing effort and collaboration among many different people.

Coincidentally, this week marks five months since the Open Handset Alliance and Android first went public. A lot has happened in this short period of time. Among the things of note:

  • We released an early look at the Android software development kit (SDK), allowing anyone to learn and start creating apps for the platform.
  • Feedback from developers has contributed to numerous fixes, improvements, new tools, and major updates to the SDK, the latest version of which you can find here.
  • Google announced the Android Developer Challenge, which will provide $10 million in total awards for the best Android apps -- and the first phase has nearly wrapped up. (Be sure to get your submissions in by April 14!)
  • Several companies gave the first working demonstrations of Android in February.
These have been an exciting first five months, and we look forward to making the coming months even better.

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Picasa Web Albums for Windows Mobile

Wednesday, April 2, 2008 12:10 PM

When Joe Walnes showed off the shiny AJAX interface on the iPhone version of Picasa Web Albums I started thinking - can we make an AJAX interface work on new Windows Mobile devices? After all, Internet Explorer Mobile supports many of the advanced browser features that we used to build the iPhone version. Joe and I wanted to give it a try so we got to work. Today we're pleased to tell owners of Windows Mobile 6 touchscreen devices that you can now enjoy a much faster and slicker way of browsing Picasa Web Albums on your phone.

Working with Windows Mobile also meant that we could add some cool features using the newly announced Google Gears for mobile, which gives web applications the ability to work even when there is no internet connection available. This means that you can view albums of your choice offline. Gears also lets you add a Picasa icon to your Program Files folder so you can have faster access to your favorite photos. If you'd like to learn more about how we leveraged Google Gears for mobile, watch Dion Almaer's interview with Joe.

To try out Picasa Web Albums on your WinMo 6 touchscreen phone, just go to on your Internet Explorer Mobile browser. Let us know what you think!

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Alexandra's Mobile [Ad]itude - We obsess about user experience

Thursday, March 27, 2008 1:51 PM

In my last post, some of you expressed concern that intrusive and oversized advertisements on a small screen could result in a poor mobile user experience. You asked how we strike the delicate balance between ensuring a good user experience while providing effective advertising. At Google, we care very deeply about this balance and we're constantly striving to make sure that you have the best experience possible. In this post, I'll tell you more about some of the things we're doing to try to achieve this.

At the core of striking this balance is working hard to improve ad quality. The more relevant the ads, the fewer ads there need to be. In fact, when you go to on your phone and do a search, we now return no more than two text ads per query. These ads can appear above or below the organic search results and most take up just two lines of text on larger mobile screens. And while a single ad may appear at the top or bottom of a mobile content page, a double ad unit can only appear at the bottom of a page. Watch the video below to learn more about ad size and placement.

Of course, we also want to make sure our advertisers have a good experience with Google mobile ads. Fewer ads per page can be beneficial for an advertiser because there is less clutter on each page and each ad gets more visibility. More importantly, showing relevant ads and maintaining a good user experience results in better click-through rates and return on investment.

I hope this addresses some of your questions. Thanks so much for your comments on my last post and keep submitting more questions. This is your opportunity to guide the direction of this series!

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Google Maps now native on more phones: Do UIQ? We do.

Thursday, March 20, 2008 11:10 AM

As a mobile user, you choose a carrier, subscription plan, platform and handset model (think of it as a flavour) that suits your fancy. And with mobile applications becoming more and more important in your everyday wireless experience, you want to be sure that the apps you know and love will run beautifully on the phone you finally decide to call your own.

That's why we've just released a "native" UIQ version of our Google Maps for mobile client application. Native applications are optimized for the platform on which they're built, meaning they run fast and feel right. UIQ is an open mobile software platform that supports rich user interfaces like touch- and full-screen. Now that Google Maps for mobile runs natively on UIQ for Symbian OS, you can get the full benefit of handy features like My Location on a wider range of phones.

You can already get Google Maps for mobile clients custom-built for Palm, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, iPhone, and Symbian S60, in addition to the widely-used Java version of the application. Now, this list includes the following UIQ handsets (version 3.0 and up): new Sony Ericsson phones with touch screens -- P1, W960i, W950, M600 or P990 -- and the Motorola Z8. And new UIQ phones are coming out all the time; look for the soon-to-be-released Sony Ericsson G700 and G900, as well as the Motorola Z10.

Supporting so many platforms means only one thing: whatever gold-plated, diamond-encrusted or mint-scented handset you choose, a zippy mobile mapping experience is never more than a download away. Just visit from your phone's web browser, and we'll get you sorted.

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Fast is better than slow

Wednesday, March 19, 2008 8:45 AM

A few weeks ago, we launched a plug-in for Symbian devices that put a Google search shortcut onto the phone's home screen. This shortcut reduces the time it takes for you to get answers from Google by eliminating the initial search steps (e.g. finding the browser application, opening it, and navigating to before entering your query). The same plug-in has been available for BlackBerry devices since last December. Today, we're making this available for Windows Mobile devices too.

If you're a Windows Mobile user, browse to on your device to download the plug-in and start searching faster than ever. Once you do, we think you'll find it so much faster and easier that you'll start conducting more mobile web searches than you ever had before. How do we know this? Well, when we look at the combined usage numbers for BlackBerry and Symbian versions of this plug-in, we see that users are able to get Google search results up to 40 percent faster. And, BlackBerry and Symbian users with the plug-in installed search 20 percent more than those without it.

We saw something similar after we launched an updated interface for Gmail on the iPhone during MacWorld earlier this year. Lots of iPhone users tried the new interface (hence the bump in Gmail pageviews between January and February), but they didn't stick around like we hoped they would. Over the course of the next few weeks, we made some tweaks to drastically improve the speed of the product, and Gmail pageviews on the iPhone not only stabilized, but began to rise, as the graph below shows:
This link between increased usage and a faster user experience -- be it search or mobile Gmail -- reinforces something we at Google have known for a long time: Fast is better than slow. With mobile applications, we're seeing that fast is much better than slow. Although this may seem pretty intuitive, it's always nice to see new data backing this up. Moving forward, we'll continue to focus on bringing you the fastest and most compelling mobile experiences that we can. So stay tuned!

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Fast tip: one-click access to Google mobile applications on your phone

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 7:40 AM

I've heard it said that user interfaces are measured in "hurts." Here at Google we like things to be as painless as possible. That's why we're happy to share a little-known feature of many phones that allows you to launch your favorite app (hopefully Google Maps!) with the press of a button.

Buried in the settings menu of many phones is the option to configure "convenience keys" (or "sidekeys," or "shortcuts," depending on the device). Convenience keys let you configure a physical key, usually on the side of your phone, to instantly launch whatever application you choose. For instance, here are some instructions for how to configure a BlackBerry, Blackjack, and Nokia N95 for one-click access to Google Maps for mobile:

BlackBerry 8800: Go to Options->Screen/Keyboard->Convenience Key -> select 'Google Maps'
Samsung BlackJack: Select 'Settings' icon ->More ->Key settings ->Side key settings ->Select 'Google Maps'
Nokia N95: Press the 'Menu' button ->Tools ->Settings ->Personalization ->Standby mode ->Shortcuts ->Left/Right selection key -> Select 'Google Maps'

In the video below Steve Lee and I show you how to set up these quick access keys. Be sure to catch our death-defying duel at the end of the video, where one of us bites the dust while the other hurls obscure movie references.

Finally, if you use shortcut keys on other phones please submit a comment below so that others can give them a try.

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