Google redesigns mobile applications after iPhone surge

Improved user interface for iPhones makes it easier to activate, navigate and use programs

Google, inundated with traffic from iPhone users over the holidays, has hurriedly made improvements to its mobile Web applications that will enable faster browsing for iPhone owners. "On Christmas, traffic to Google from iPhones surged, surpassing incoming traffic from any other type of mobile device," The New York Times reported Monday, citing internal Google data provided to the newspaper.

This traffic was disproportional to the iPhone's actual market reach, because Apple's hot consumer device accounts for 2% of smart phones worldwide, compared to 63% for the Symbian operating system and about 10% each for Microsoft's Windows Mobile and BlackBerry.

IPhone traffic to Google since has fallen to below the traffic to Google from Symbian-based devices, but remains higher than traffic from Windows Mobile and BlackBerry, the Times report states. The iPhone's unique Web-browsing capabilities seem to have users surfing the Internet more often than owners of other smart phones. Yahoo and the advertising company AdMob also report disproportionately high traffic coming from iPhones, according to the newspaper.

Google is hoping to take advantage of this new trend, and on Monday announced an upgrade to its iPhone applications just six weeks after they were released. "We've streamlined the interface ... making the applications faster and improving their useability," Google says in a press release.

Google says its improved user interface for iPhones makes it easier to activate, navigate and use such programs as search, e-mail, calendar and news feeds via a touchscreen. New e-mails now will pop up in iPhone in-boxes automatically because of Gmail improvements, eliminating the need to refresh the page manually, Google says.

Other improvements announced by Google include:

-- Customization of default tabs allowing users to decide which applications appear on the Google.com menu bar.

-- A Google Calendar upgrade allowing iPhone users to view a full month's worth of appointments at once.

-- Gadgets letting users customize their iGoogle home page with weather, stocks, news feeds and other features.

Google says it plans to extend these upgraded applications to other smart phones "that offer similar usability and browser capabilities."

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Jon Brodkin

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