Today Google announced that they've added location-aware search suggestions to Google.com on iPhone and Android devices. This means that if you're searching for a local restaurant called "Octane" in the Rockford area, Google will suggest "Octane Rockford IL" as a search suggestion instead of "octane fitness" as it would if it didn't know your location.
To use the new feature, you'll have to go to Google.com on your iPhone instead of using the Google search field built into Safari. You'll also have to turn on "Allow use of device location" for it to know your location in the first place. Once that's all squared away, suggestions appear as you type in the search field on Google.com.
Google is estimated to have sold 20,500 units of their new Nexus One Android handset in it's first week of availability. Those numbers aren't spectacular, given many had hoped it would compete with the iPhone and increase competition in the mobile industry. It's got a long way until it gets to the kind of numbers the 3GS brought in at it's first week.
Google has just announced a new location-based feature for mobile called "Near me now." The feature works within Safari to show you points of interest using your current location. The service aims to solve two problems; getting info about places right in front of you, as well as allowing you to search for nearby categories. One example they use is trying to decide whether a nearby restaurant is any good. All you have to do is go to Google.com on your iPhone, tap "Near me now," and tap "Explore right here." Google will then show you all the stuff right in front of you, along with reviews if they're available.
The feature also lets you search for popular categories of nearby places like coffee and restaurants. It's pretty cool, although most of these features work within the Maps application. The only advantage we see is being able to look at user reviews.
Yesterday, comparison photos and the world's first sneak peek of the Nexus One (aka Google Phone) hit the web, offering the first chance to see just how it stacks up to the iPhone as far as the interface's experience. Today, Engadget filled in the rest of the blanks, publishing an extensive specification sheet on the device that shows us how it really stacks up to the competition today. They also have word that the device will first be sold on an invite-only basis.
The HTC Nexus (alias: Google Phone) has gotten a lot of hype (which we also helped promote). Many see it as the first to truly stand any chance of competing with the iPhone and providing enough competition to influence Apple, but so little was known about it that doing any meaningful comparison to the iPhone was impossible. Today that changed with the appearance of a video demo of the Nexus's interface and comparison photos showing it next to the iPhone and HTC Hero.
The Gmail team at Google announced recently that they have updated the mobile-optomized version of Gmail that shows up on smartphones like the iPhone to be between 2 and 3 times faster than the previous version. The speed increase is the result of several optimizations implemented to boost performance of Gmail's mobile site.
With the cat-and-mouse game between the iPhone Dev Team and Apple to keep the iPhone unlocked seeming increasingly endless, it's hard to imagine Apple ever giving up and simply offering the devices unlocked at reasonable prices. But that's exactly what Google is doing with their upcoming Google phone, the first Android device completely designed by Google, giving it the potential to be even more influential on the smartphone industry than the iPhone.
In an interesting article pointing out how Apple and Google are vying over similar Valley startups, the Wall Street Journal today revealed that Google may have been in discussions to acquire La La Media just before Apple purchased it. And why not? The notion that Google wants a cloud-based music service to go along with its Chrome OS makes sense—until you look back at what the New York Times had to say about the deal. In their initial piece on the story, NYT said that Lala execs realized that they were losing money and initiated talks with Apple, not the other way around.
In case you haven't heard, Google recently announced a new service for their Android handsets called Google Goggles. Dubbed "visual search", which is intended to complement their typed and spoken search methods, Google Goggles finds information about places and objects using pictures taken with the camera. Fortunately, they hinted that it will likely be released on the iPhone as well.
Google announced earlier today that they have launched a mobile-formatted version of Google News for viewing on smartphones, geared directly toward iPhone, Android, and Palm Pre users.The new version offers similar features to the desktop homepage, displaying more stories than the other versions, while still keeping with their distinctive style.