You Ask, We Answer. Go Mobile!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | 10:19 PM

This week, as part of our celebration of all things mobile, we posed you this question - what do you want to know? And you told us! After two days, 519 people submitted 133 questions and cast 4,607 votes. We saw some common themes in your questions, so we grouped several together to address some of the most popular topics.

Google Voice
We received an overwhelming number of Google Voice questions - 3 out of the top 5 questions were about Google Voice - and we're happy you're so enthusiastic about and interested in this new product! As far as making Voice available to more users, we began giving current users the ability to invite friends and family on Tuesday. We will continue sending out invitations to people who have requested them on our website, and we plan to make additional friends and family invitations available in the future. For those of you outside the US, we plan to make Google Voice available internationally; however, we don't have specifics to share at this time. As for new features, we're certainly evaluating which highly requested features we can add to improve Google Voice, such as number portability, though we don't have anything to announce quite yet. Keep up on the latest with Google Voice by following their blog at http://googlevoiceblog.blogspot.com/.

Googlers' favorite phones
You asked us which phones are the most favored here on the Google mobile team. The answer's not particularly juicy, but it's honest: every phone! You'll see Googlers walking around campus carrying just about every phone under the stars, including multiple Android-powered devices, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Nokia, etc. And the Mobile team takes it up a notch. It's quite common for us to carry multiple phones at any given time, and as we sit down in a meeting, we often see someone unload five different phones from their pockets onto the table. Don't have the right one handy? We just head to our "Sky Lab" and grab one of the over 800 phones available. By using lots of different devices, we can make sure we're designing products that work well for you, no matter which device YOU are using. We understand that the phone someone chooses to use everyday varies with personal preference, but we generally prefer phones with great browsers and fast performance. Of course, it never hurts to have the newest toy on the block.

Google Wave for mobile
We're still early in Wave's preview, but you can currently access Google Wave on both Android-powered devices and the iPhone by pointing the phone's browser to wave.google.com. Please note that we're still in preview phase, and as we've mentioned before, you may experience occasional downtime or run into some bugs with Wave on your mobile phone, similar to when you access Google Wave from your computer.

Web vs. App
We're often asked why certain products, such as Google Reader, are available as a web application, accessible through the browser, and not a native, downloadable application. At Google, we believe in the power of the web to give us the flexibility to build one app that can run in the browser on multiple phones, rather than developing a different app for every platform. With more capable mobile browsers and technologies like HTML5 and Gears, web apps deliver a great experience because they closely mirror the desktop web in overall look, feel and functionality. They also let us iterate fast and add lots of cool features quickly without having to build from scratch each feature for various devices and platforms. Of course in some cases, investing in native applications for multiple platforms make sense. For example, with Google Maps for mobile, the native app lets us get your location or quickly process lots of data, such as map tiles. That said, new browsers and faster phones are allowing for more powerful web apps - such as Google Maps on Palm Pre or Google Latitude on iPhone - that can also get your location and that are almost as fast as native apps. In the end, there are a lot of users out there on a lot of phones, and we develop our products to put the best experience possible in your hands and your pockets.

In some cases, such as Gmail for certain phones, we offer both a native and web app because we want users to have choice in deciding how they access their information. We believe that both methods - web apps and native apps - offer a rich mobile experience, and we are committed to providing the best possible experience to users, regardless of the underlying development technology.

Mobile Product Roadmap
You also asked lots of great questions around product and feature development and availability. As we mentioned on the original Q & A page, we aren't able to provide forward-looking information on features or products, but we love your enthusiasm for ideas around how we can make existing Google Mobile products more useful or just make more Google Mobile products period. We're always working to improve all of our mobile products and will continue to do so with our eyes and ears open for your ideas and feedback. So keep it coming in the Google Mobile Blog, the Help Forum, and especially the Product Ideas page!

Go Mobile!


6 comments:

Tom said...

Disappointed to see you didn't answer the second part of the most popular question "...and will it eventually use "Push" technology similar to the GMail app on Android phones?"
To me this is the one flaw in an otherwise great product.

Tom said...

For those who didn't read the questions, my comment concerns Google Voice.

ruffneckc said...

I second that Tom, since I wrote the question but be that as it may, it's in their consciousness that it's required for the app to be all it can be.

cory said...

Wow, I'm a big Google fan/user; however, I have to say this Q&A was a joke.

First, if you tried to ask a question, no matter how specific, the system presented you with already asked questions and you were forced to choose one (eventhough it DID NOT reflect your question.). Why was this done?

Second, answering only 5 questions out of 133? Wow...at least answer the top 10 or 20.

Third, as other commenters have pointed out some of the questions are not fully answered, or used an 'escape hatch' like "...we aren't able to provide forward-looking information on features or products...".

All-in-all, I don't believe this has helped Google connect with their users, if that's what they where trying to achieve. The Google Help Forums are already loaded to the hilt with the very questions people posted for the Q&A. If Google could/would answer those, this would have been unecessary.

Tom said...

In some cases,... Gmail ... we offer both a native and web app because we want users to have choice... We believe that both methods - web apps and native apps - offer a rich mobile experience,
-----------------------
This is all great but you need to do much better at providing simple knowledge of what apps are available to what devices. A simple major spreadsheet of some kind would be nice
i.e. list of all available software for all available devices

Robin said...

Thanks for the comments, folks. As far as providing availability of apps by phone, we've created three resources for just this purpose:

1) http://mobile.google.com from your computer lets you pick from among the major smartphones to see exactly which apps are available for your phone. As far as phones beyond these, support really does vary so much on non-smartphones that the best way is to go to...

2) http://m.google.com from your phone actually detects the exact phone you're coming from (using your phone's default browser info) and shows you only the products that are available for your phone. Select a product, and if an app is available for download, it'll provide an "Install" link. In some cases, your browser may be incorrectly detected (BlackBerry and Windows Mobile browsers in particular sometimes pretend to be non-mobile browsers) and you'll get mobile.google.com. See this article: http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=98020

3) http://www.google.com/support/mobile/ is our Help Center that provides a list of supported phones by product. You can also select your phone here from among the major smartphones to see content that is only relevant to your phones.

If there's a problem, or if you have more feedback, please let us know in the Help Forum: http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Google+Mobile?hl=en

Google Mobile Guide Robin