Google is definitely pushing their mobile apps output recently. The new gmail app for android devices and the iphone is looking very promising. Since there hasn’t been any announcement for an windows mobile version yet, we have to be patient. But im hoping that there will be an opera mobile optimized version of gmail soon. In the meantime let’s take a look at the google mobile app for windows mobile, which was released in february.
So what is the benefit of this new app? It will show you a google search bar and links to other google services. Now it’s possible to start searches and access gmail, google maps, google documents, blogger and other services directly via the search bar and you don’t have to open the browser first.
The app can be started with a regular shortcut, or activated by using the today plugin so the bar will be placed on your today screen.
When i was installing the application i was quite curious if it will really have any big impact on the way i’m using google services on my device. After a few weeks i have to admit that it didn’t change my behaviour that much. I don’t have any room left on my first today screen, so i added the app to my second today screen which i can access with a horizontal swipe. By doing that i basically lost the biggest pro of the mobile app: being able to start a search or an app right away from your home screen.
So in my case it didn’t add any real value, because i have to access the second today screen in order to see the search bar. Compare this to starting opera mobile where i have all my favourites stored, it just doesn’t make a big difference.
In both cases i have to make one input prior to being able to start a search or access a specific web-based application. The only difference is that google mobile app will give me only shorcuts to google apps, while my favourites in opera are of course not limited to any company.
Let’s use a simple example to show what i mean. I will write down the necessary steps to start a web search using google mobile app, and compare it to working with the browser directly.
Starting a search with google mobile app:
- Start google mobile app or tap on the search bar on today screen
- Type in search words
- Wait for browser to start up and get the search results
Starting a search without google mobile app:
- Start opera mobile via shortcut or hardware button.
- Type in search words (if you have google set as startpage, otherwise add one step here)
- Wait for results
While there might be slight benefits for those who don’t use google as start page on their mobile browsers, i just can’t see the real advantage which would convince me to use the google mobile app for my searches and to access googles services instead of simply starting up opera mobile.
My final verdict is that the mobile app can be interesting for those who are especially obsessed with google services, and have some room left on their today screen. But all other users will probably be better off just using the browser of their choice with their own favourites. That way you will have your complete list of web-based apps at one place, instead of using two different approaches for google apps and non-goggle apps.
If you want to try it out for yourself, check out the official google mobile app product page.