Got Questions? Try the new Google Mobile Help Forum

Monday, November 24, 2008 | 6:00 PM

We know that with many Google products launching on an array of mobile devices, you're bound to have questions. And with all your experience using those products and devices, you're also likely to have some knowledge to share. Even though we've tried to make our help center as up to date as possible, you'll likely have even more questions that we haven't addressed yet. We can't talk to everyone -- there are millions of you! -- but we've been working hard to provide you with better ways to express your views and discuss our products. To that end, we're very excited to invite you to a housewarming party as our help community moves from Google Groups to a brand new platform: the Google Mobile Help Forum.

The new platform was built from scratch to offer you some exciting new features:

  • Q&A format to help you find answers quickly
  • Improved search and integration with the Google Mobile Help Center
  • Better spam detection and prevention
  • Public recognition of Top Contributors and frequent posters (with more posting privileges as you make your way up)
  • Ability to subscribe to ask questions and receive answers via email
Naturally, we're pumped for the move. We've got a dynamic system of levels to reward your contributions, and a profile that you can personalize. You can subscribe to the forum (or to individual discussions) by RSS feed. You can even vote on which responses answer the question best and mark a best answer to a question you asked.

The new forum is just one step in our quest to build better products and connect you with one another, so stay tuned for more. As part of this transition, we'll archive the current Google Help Group, as well as the Google Mobile Community. We hope you'll use the Forum not just when you need help, but also to share your enthusiasm and give tips and tricks to the whole mobile community. So stop by to introduce youself, and stay to ask and answer a few questions.

Google Maps for iPhone adds Street View, public transit, and walking directions

Friday, November 21, 2008 | 3:00 AM

(cross posted with the Google LatLong Blog)

I waited in line on launch day to buy my first-generation iPhone, and ever since then it has never left my side. The best part is that it keeps getting more useful with every software upgrade Apple puts out. This time around, Apple has improved their version of Google Maps by putting even more Google features in your pocket.

The most eye-catching one is Street View: Apple's silky-smooth implementation makes it a joy to pan around the world. You might wonder why you'd want to look at panoramas of the world while you're already out in it, but I've found it handy for getting an idea of what to look for when going somewhere new. In somewhere like New York, it's also a great way to get your bearings when you pop out of a subway station in an unfamiliar part of town.



Speaking of subways, my favorite new feature is the addition of Google Transit and walking directions. In a time of congested roads and fluctuating gas prices, driving isn't always the best way to get from A to B, so why limit your options? Now when you get directions, you can switch between driving, walking, and public transportation directions (where available) with a single tap.

Google Maps has schedules for transportation systems in more than 100 cities worldwide, including New York, Tokyo, Montréal, Zürich, and Perth — and now it's easy to get that information on your iPhone. As more transportation agencies decide to share their schedule information, their routes will be available on the iPhone the instant they appear in Google Maps on the web.




Finally, in the latest version of Google Maps for iPhone, you can email information about a location to your friends, which can be a great help when coordinating a get-together.

To get these new Maps features on your iPhone, you'll need to update your phone's software through iTunes. I hope you'll find these new additions as useful as I have. And don't forget that even if you don't have an iPhone, Google Maps for mobile is available for many other kinds of phones, including BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Symbian Series 60, and Android — visit www.google.com/gmm for more details.

by Joe Hughes, Mobile Maps Software Engineer

Google Sync for BlackBerry: Now with contacts

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 | 12:16 PM

You asked for it, so here it is. We're happy to announce that in the latest update to Google Sync for BlackBerry, we've added two-way contacts synchronization. This new functionality will enable you to sync your handheld's built-in address book with your Gmail contacts. This all happens in the background and over the air, so your information is always up to date, no matter where you are or what you're doing.

Once you've installed Sync, all your information will be safe in your Google account. If you ever lose your phone or buy a new one, getting your address book and calendar to your new device is as easy as installing Sync. Current and new Google Sync users can try Google Sync today by visiting m.google.com/sync from their BlackBerry browser.

Posted by Marcus Foster, Product Manager, Google Mobile

Google Mobile App for iPhone now with Voice Search and My Location

Monday, November 17, 2008 | 5:32 PM

The new Google Mobile App for iPhone makes it possible for you to do a Google web search using only your voice. Just hold the phone to your ear, wait for the beep, and say what you're looking for. That's it. Just talk. Once the App is on, you don't have to push any buttons to search. Check out the video below to watch engineer Mike LeBeau explain how this works.

After you speak your query, Google Mobile App will return search results formatted for your iPhone.

And if you're doing a local search, there's no need to specify where you are because Google Mobile App now has Search with My Location. Search for "movie showtimes" or "Mediterranean restaurant" and you'll automatically see results based on your current location. For this to work, Location Services must be enabled on your iPhone and you have to opt-in to let Google Mobile App use your location.

To get the latest Google Mobile App for iPhone or iPod touch, go to the App Store and look for "Google Mobile App." Note that the voice search feature is currently available only in U.S. English and for the iPhone. Read more about other features of Google Mobile App.

Watch this video to see what Googlers from Chicago, London, New York, and Mountain View are searching for. Then consider sharing your most interesting voice search query by submitting a video response.



New Google Search results pages for iPhone

Tuesday, November 11, 2008 | 7:30 PM

Starting today in the U.S., when you go to google.com on your iPhone and do a search, you'll see search results that are better optimized for your phone. You'll still get the full comprehensiveness and quality of regular Google Search results, but laid out in a more efficient and user-friendly arrangement.

Results are formatted to be neatly displayed on the mobile screen, so there's no need to scroll side to side. Local search results now include easier-to-press "Get Directions" and click-to-call links. Maps are shown by default in the case of a single listing or accessible by the "Show map" link for multiple listings. For those of you wanting to access the classic desktop search results format, it's only a click away, with the "Classic" link near the bottom of each page.

For now, the newly formatted results pages are available only in U.S. English and for iPhone and iPod touch firmware version 2.x. Over time, we intend to make the newly formatted results pages available through other search entry points on the iPhone, on additional devices, and in more language and country combinations.



Updates to Google Maps for mobile for enterprises

Monday, November 10, 2008 | 10:40 AM

We recently released new installation packages for Google Maps for mobile in enterprises. These new packages allow IT managers to make Google Maps for mobile, with new features such as Street View and transit directions, available to corporate BlackBerry users.

While this blog tends to focus on consumer applications of Google Mobile products, many of our products are used by business people to find information essential to their jobs. Perhaps you use a BlackBerry issued by your company. If you do, hopefully you search the web with Google and get directions using Google Maps. Your BlackBerry is likely administered by IT managers who whitelist what software you can install on the device. In many cases, IT managers haven't whitelisted Google Maps for mobile or other Google Mobile applications.

If you are an IT manager, visit http://mobile.google.com/enterprise to learn how to give your staff Google Mobile applications. The new installation packages allow you to place the Maps for mobile binaries on an internal server, or push the application to your employees via BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

If you don't manage information technology at your company, consider asking your IT department to deploy Google Maps and Web Search on all the company phones.

On Mobile and Elections

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 | 4:05 PM

It's election day! Once you've found where to vote and made your voice count, you'll probably want to see how the rest of the nation's vote is shaping up. Now, on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or T-Mobile G1, Google News for Mobile has a summary of the popular and electoral votes, updated every few minutes. For all phones, the Elections section on Google News for Mobile (just go to http://www.google.com/m/news?topic=el on your mobile phone) can keep you updated on today's stories on the go. 

It's very exciting to see the role of mobile in an election. The Obama campaign famously unveiled the Democratic VP nomination via SMS. Nonpartisan groups such as Rock the Vote are sending 
SMS election updates to their subscribers. News organizations are more aware than ever that they need a mobile site so their stories are directly available to their readers on all platforms. Mobile phones have been making an impact internationally as well. In Senegal, for example, the increasing prevalence of mobile devices has reduced the opportunity for election fraud. Locals were able to spread district voting results before they bubbled up for the final national count because of mobile connectivity.  Officials at the highest levels were thus unable to manipulate the national figures. So tell us... how are you using your phone this election day?


Posted by Effie Seiberg, Mobile Citizen