As we prepare for the eventual Google Mobile experience, there are a few updates that are worth noting.
First, last week Google released a terrific update to their Maps application on Friday, which now runs native on S60 devices. You can download from your phone via http://www.google.com/gmm. Speed seems much improved in loading and moving through maps over the Java version as you might expect from a native app. Google Maps also now fully supports GPS which is just awesome. It does not seem to support AGPS yet, but connects very quickly enough if you are not deep inside a building.
Compared to Nokia Maps, it’s a bit quicker for general location awareness and directions, but you can’t tap into saved locations from your device (yet) and you can’t get live turn by turn directions with spoken updates for driving – but you can see live traffic! POI are tied with Google and seem to be better than Nokia Maps… I can see myself using this a lot… I’m sure I’ll be checking in with Google Maps when I land in San Francisco tomorrow.
Last night I became aware of an update to GMail Mobile… which can be downloaded at http://www.gmail.com/app. While it’s not native there are some nice improvements which seem worthy of the update. You can save drafts though only one which is helpful if you are tapping something out on your phone and get interrupted or run out of time. While you still cannot send attachments, there’s a pre-load option so messages pop open much more quickly. This uses more data so non-unlimited plan people take note… There’s a status on how much each transaction uses so you can keep tabs on things if you need.
Based on the release of the Native S60 Google Maps application, I’m hopeful that we’ll see a native GMail as well. Aside from attachment sending, I’d really like to see an auto-refresh option so my new mail is just there waiting to be read… Manual refresh works quick enough, but saving that step would be appreciated.