Google on Android

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 | 8:16 AM

At Google, we develop products that we love to use ourselves. For example, we're avid users of Search, Gmail, Maps, and many others. But for those of us in mobile, it's tough. Not all products work the same on all devices, and although we try and optimize for each device, we often run into challenges specific to certain mobile phone platforms. I, for one, used to carry three devices with me all day. I love my iPhone for its powerful browser and music player. I use my BlackBerry for Gmail and Calendar (and occasionally Brick Breaker), and I carry a Nokia N-series phone because of its camera and YouTube application.

The first Android-powered phone, announced today by T-Mobile, comes 'with Google'. The following Google applications are preloaded on the device: Search, Maps, Gmail with Contacts, Calendar, Google Talk, and YouTube. There are a few things I'm particularly excited about:

  • Easy to use. It's never been easier to use Google on your phone. With single sign-in, you can log in to your Google account and have instant access to all your favorite Google products. No messing around with settings, your login never expires, and everything just works. If you don't have a Google account yet, you can set one up on your phone and be up and running in seconds.
  • Fully synchronized. Your emails, contacts, calendar entries, Google Talk chats are fully synchronized with Gmail and Calendar on the web. New events are pushed in real-time to your phone and any changes you make on-the-go are immediately available on the web. If you ever lose or break your phone, all your data is safe and secure in the cloud.
  • Designed to work together. Search is now available as a feature in many applications, including non-Google ones, such as the music player. While you're listening to a song -- like something from Depeche Mode -- just 'long-press' the artist's name. You'll see a menu pop up that let's you search Google for the Depeche Mode Wikipedia entry, or search YouTube for the music video. The contact application lets you see your friend's IM status, view his address on a map, and communicate with him using Gmail or Google Talk. And, of course, you can call or text him as well.
Check out the video below to see these features in action:

The Google applications on Android take full advantage of the features of the Android platform. Gmail is built on 'embedded WebViews', the real-time push features and synchronization use the multi-tasking capabilities of the platform, and the integration between applications relies on the 'Android Application Framework'.

We're kicking off a new blog series, called 'Google on Android'. Over the next couple of weeks, we will dig deeper into each one of the Google applications available for Android, and at the end of the series, I'll let you know whether I've decided to switch phones or switch to pants that let me carry four phones instead of three.

Get public transit directions in New York with Google Maps for mobile

| 4:54 AM

Now that Google Maps can give you subway, train, bus, and ferry directions in New York City, it's a handy tool for planning a night on the town. But what if your plans change while you're at dinner?

Luckily, Google Maps for mobile can give you the same public transit directions right on your cell phone! You can plan trips throughout the New York metro area, including turn-by-turn walking directions. With the My Location feature, most cell phones can automatically set the starting point for your trip, even without GPS. And satellite view and Street View (on selected devices) can show you a preview of where you're going.

With Google Maps for mobile in your pocket, you can go wherever the evening takes you, secure in the knowledge that it'll be easy to figure out how to get there. Google Maps for mobile with public transit directions is available for Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Symbian Series 60, and many Java-based phones. Download it by visiting in your mobile phone's browser.

Street View and walking directions come to Google Maps for mobile

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 | 8:06 AM

This July, Street View went international for the Tour de France, and in August, expanded coverage to Japan and Australia. Now, Street View is coming to another new frontier: your phone.

Today we're launching a new version of Google Maps for mobile with the same street-level imagery available on desktop. Wondering if the restaurant in your search results is the one you're thinking of? Just click "Street View" after your search to see the storefront. Unsure about a complicated intersection in your directions? Use Street View to see a photo, so there's no mistaking your turn. You can also launch Street View from any address where we have photography, or simply by clicking on the map and selecting "Street View". You can browse Street View overlaid on the map or in full screen, rotate your view to see more of your surroundings, and move along the street.

We've also added other features to help you search for and get to businesses and locations. You can now read business reviews, so you'll know if it's actually worth driving across town to that store. And once you decide where to go, you can get there on foot using the same walking directions (beta) we recently launched on desktop. Finally, we hope you'll notice significant improvements in search speed with this version, as well as better location accuracy in all versions thanks to this week's My Location update.

Check out this video to see the new release of Google Maps for mobile in action:

The newest Google Maps for mobile is available now for BlackBerry and many Java-enabled phones. To download it to your phone, visit from your phone's web browser or on the desktop. We're working on bringing all these new features to other platforms as well, so stay tuned.

Posted by Michael Siliski, Product Manager

My Location: smaller is better!

Monday, September 15, 2008 | 6:31 PM

My Location just got better for all the applications that use Google's geolocation service!

In November 2007 we launched My Location on Google Maps for mobile, and in the past few months, we've location-enabled other applications from third parties and Google. Hundreds of location-enabled iPhone applications, including the Google Mobile App, use Google's database of cell towers to determine approximate location. And just last week we announced Mobile Search with My Location, powered by the Gears Geolocation API.

With today's launch, your location estimate will be centered closer to your true location, and we have also improved the calculation of just how good our estimate is. When we originally launched the "blue circle" on Google Maps for mobile, the circle usually stayed the same size no matter if you were in downtown Manhattan or rural Iowa. Now, the next time you're using Google Maps in downtown Manhattan, expect to see a much smaller circle that's also far more accurate. Conversely, when you're in a lightly populated area like rural Iowa, expect to see a much larger circle which also happens to be centered closer to your true location. Check out these screenshots to get a better idea of the before and after effects of today's change:

New York City -- a smaller light blue circle denotes that we're more confident of your actual location.

Slater, Iowa - the light blue circle is larger because there are fewer cell towers with which to determine your location, but the dark blue circle is more accurately centered in downtown Slater

So how exactly have we made these improvements? Mobile operators typically need a lot more cell towers in populous areas to service all the users. This means each individual tower provides a much smaller coverage footprint. On the other hand, in a very sparsely populated area, towers provide much larger coverage footprints. We've developed algorithms to try and figure out what the right circle size should be and are pleased to make this available to you today.

There's actually nothing you need to do to start enjoying the new improvements to My Location. Any application powered by Google's geolocation service automatically benefits from today's launch. Enjoy!

Posted by Zhengrong Ji, Software Engineer

Introducing Mobile Search with My Location

Thursday, September 11, 2008 | 11:57 AM

From time to time, we all need information about local businesses when we're away from our computers -- like confirming the address of a bar while on the way to meet friends. Today we're introducing Search with My Location, a new way to make searching for nearby businesses on your Windows Mobile phone faster and easier.

Previously, when you went to from your phone’s browser and performed a local search, the results were tailored to the last location you entered. Now, using the Gears Geolocation API, Search with My Location approximates your actual location using the same Cell ID technology used by Google maps for mobile. So if you want to find sushi nearby, just type "sushi" and Google will return local business listings around you. If you want to know the forecast, type "weather". If you want to search somewhere else, specify a location in the query like "pizza Kansas City".

We take your privacy seriously and have designed Search with My Location so that it doesn't associate your location with any personally identifiable information, even if you are logged in. We won’t send your location until you explicitly opt in, and you can always opt-out from the Gears Settings under the Tools menu.

Note that some devices don't yet support My Location. For this reason, we’re initially launching the feature on the devices listed in this help center article while we work with manufacturers to add support to future phone versions.

Initially, Search with My Location will be available in the US and UK. To get started, visit from your phone and click on the My Location link under the search box (you may have to refresh the page to see the link). Enjoy the new feature and check out the video to see how Search with My Location can help save your thumbs!

Google Mobile App for BlackBerry: faster, stronger, better

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 | 1:53 PM

Today we're pleased to launch Google Mobile App for BlackBerry. It's a free download and it looks like this:

To download the App, visit on your BlackBerry device.

Once it's installed you'll have faster search and easy access to Maps, Gmail, News, and more from Google.

So what exactly will you get?
  • Fast Google search - enter queries without waiting for a browser to load
  • Search history - easily access and amend your previous queries
  • Google Suggest - complete queries with less typing
  • Easy access to Google products for your phone - click once to download and install our applications for BlackBerry, and get immediate access to our web-based services
  • Google Apps support - get direct links to your Google Apps Calendar and Documents/Spreadsheets (select Menu, Options, Use Google Apps Domain: yes, and then enter your domain name)
  • Update alerts - learn about new versions of downloadable Google mobile applications and upgrade with just one click (Google Mobile App replaces Google Updater for BlackBerry)
We hope you'll enjoy using Google Mobile App.

A final tip - you can make it even easier to get all of this whenever you need it... just assign Google Mobile App to a convenience key using these instructions.