Tuesday, November 18, 2008

iPhone Google Mobile App changes - more than voice

The headlines are all about server-based voice search: Now you can speak to Google Mobile App on your iPhone.

So far the voice search seems more novel than interesting. Voice software doesn't like my voice (hey, it sounds clear to me!), and Google is no exception. It would be much more useful if:
  1. Voice search preferences were distinct from text search preferences. Then I could limit voice search to contacts
  2. Contact voice search ran against my Gmail Contacts, not my iPhone Contacts. The latter set is much larger.
There's a several second lag between when you change settings in Google Mobile Apps (GMA) and when the changes propagate to google servers. This is confusing if you don't know about it.

On the bright side, search results are now optimized for the iPhone, including images and news, and you can set search with keyboard showing as your start screen. Terrific launch time too! (Tap the top of screen to dismiss the keyboard -- that's not obvious and if you don't know about it it looks like you're locked out of the app!)

You can now add a Google Apps set that's distinct from your Gmail identity - one domain only (see settings).

So now I can view my Gmail calendar and my family domain Calendar, but when you view from this URL you can't edit calendar settings. It's read only. So I still need to use the top-secret Google Apps only editable calendar URL.

There are a LOT of changes to Google Mobile Apps. Since they're a neat fusion of iPhone resident app and web app it's a bit hard to tell what's changed where, but overall it's a great set of improvements. I particularly like the ability to work with both a Google Apps domain and a Gmail identity.

So even if the voice stuff doesn't do much for me, the rest is very good. Now if Apple would release it's beringed fingers and give Google access to the calendar API...

Update 2/20/09: The voice search turned out to be just a toy, but the rest worked well.

The Personal and the Apps Calendar

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