Googles iPad Optimized Websites [Updated]

The Google Mobile Blog:

Here at Google we’re really excited about the promise of tablet computers, which will be great for browsing the web and using apps. We’ve been working hard to optimize our services for the new format – larger touchscreens, increased portability, rich sensors – and we’d like to share some information about our progress so far.

Gmail in a two-pane view on the iPad is nice, but what I find interesting about this post is how much it reeks of a Google Chrome OS tablet. This is Google optimized for iPad and tablet computers. Steve is about to get even angrier.

[Update]: On a related note, Lifehacker shows us how to run the new finger friendly Gmail outside the pad.

How Eric Schmidt Lost His Mistress, His Partner And Steve Jobs

From a piece on Valleywag:

Schmidt’s mobile phone rang on the highway between Reno and Burning Man’s movable city in Black Rock Desert. It was Jobs, angry. The call then dropped; bad signal, middle of nowhere. The disconnect couldn’t be blamed on a flaky iPhone connection: Schmidt had long ago given up on the Apple handset because he couldn’t stand the on-screen keyboard. His wife had tested a prototype, but didn’t care to keep it. Schmidt, we’re told, ended up giving his iPhone to Bohner as a gift.

Schmidt located a convenience store and used a pay phone to call Jobs back. The Apple CEO “shouted” at Schmidt and “railed” at him, furious about his smartphone plans and duplicity, said our source. After all, Schmidt sat on Apple’s board and was supposed to be a partner on the iPhone, providing internet services like maps.

In this increasingly ridiculous feud, I find it important to remember that the Nexus One is simply a phone, one which Google doesn’t even produce but simply deliver software for. How is Google supposed to deliver good mobile software without a platform on which it can install its Voice app? I’m surprised that Jobs is surprised at Google for doing this, and I think his anger betrays his belief that this is a legitimate threat to the dominant iPhone.

Open Letter To Steve Jobs Concerning The HTC Lawsuits

Wil Shipley:

Enforcing patents is wrong. You’ve famously taken and built on ideas from your competitors, as have I, as we should, as great artists do. Why is what HTC has done worse? Whether an idea was patented doesn’t change the morality of copying it, it only changes the ability to sue.

[…]

I always thought of you as a guy who’d say, “Well, copy me if you can, because you’re copying what I did years ago, and what I’m working on now is EVEN cooler!” I like it when competitors copy me because it means they aren’t about to leapfrog me: they’ll always be playing catch-up.

This is, of course, the laser-eyes-lion-riding Wil Shipley who was himself copied by Apple. Which makes this post extra delicious.

Why The iPad Doesn’t Have Multi-Tasking

One of the things discussed about the new Apple tablet, other than its lack of Flash, is its apparent lack of multi-tasking. Multi-tasking, of course, being the ability to listen to music or radio while playing Flight Control. I’d like to talk about that, because I’m pretty sure I know why there’s no multi-tasking, and if you’ll let me attempt prescience for a moment, I’m going to let you in on the secret.

Multi-tasking doesn’t work well enough yet. That is also to say that when it does, Apple will feed a system update which adds this feature; to the pad and phone alike. It’ll be just like when you all got copy and paste.

I’m an Android fellow. I cannot accept the closed platform that is the Apple ecosystem. The fact that I’d have to open iTunes to get stuff on to my phone instead of being completely unrestricted1, is something I couldn’t ever imagine settling for. Additionally, I am enjoying multi-tasking on my Android phone today; I’m listening to podcasts via Google Listen while browsing Wikipedia, and it’s a bliss I’m sure iPhone OS users will appreciate soon enough.

Even so, the Android implementation of multi-tasking is an example of why Apple hasn’t done it yet. Gruber was boggled by the need for a task killer on the platform, and frankly — so am I. Which is key to this issue. A single-tasking platform closes every app when a new app is invoked. The robo-logistics are simple: “Home” means “Save & Close”. Because this is simple, it works. Transparently, easily, and without the need to peek inside the system to see what’s running and what shouldn’t be.

Both Android and iPhone OS are pioneering new ways to interact with computers (which incidentally is why I now prefer these OSes on principle, over Windows, Linux and OSX). The new trend is to tuck away the filesystem; to whittle down all the nerdy stuff. To make it feel obsolete and unnecessary. You don’t drop your music into a folder, you drop it onto your phone and then sort it using meta information such as artist, year, album and so on. You also no longer window manage. You don’t open an app, you enter Google Listen. You don’t close an app, you press “Home”. If you were playing a podcast, it keeps playing even as you enter the browser to explore Wikipedia. If you weren’t playing a podcast, the system cleans up any stray processes for you, so the system doesn’t spend memory that isn’t needed. It’s all very elegant, and once you get used to it, closing apps feels very 1990.

Except it’s not as elegant as it sounds. Because apps themselves decide when they’re done using your battery and not all apps are good citizens. Sometimes you’ll click “home” with the intent of not going back to your game of Robo Defence. But Robo Defence isn’t sure what you want, so it’s just paused your game. Which means goodbye battery. Which means you need a task killer, whose sole raison d’etre is giving you a neat list of which apps are running in the background and the ability to forcefully close them.

I’m sure Android will get there. Development is moving at a blinding pace; in fact things may already be better in version 2.1. In the meantime, I’ll be loving my Google Listen background process. Even if it means I need a task killer. Once Android grows up, I’m saying a fond goodbye to my task killer, and I will never look back. But I’m not a normal user. I’m not one to be impressed by Apples “only launch when perfect” ideology, I much prefer Googles “launch early, iterate often” approach. I’m also smart enough to understand why Apple postpones multi-tasking until they get it right. Which is when you’ll get multi-tasking on your iPhones and iPads.

[Update]: Michael points out in the comments, that the iPhone has been able to play podcasts in the background since launch. My bad example. Please appropriate “Google Listen” with “Pandora” and my example will make sense again.

  1. Incidentally, I currently use an Android file explorer app to connect to my NAS and copy things from over the air.  

Games On The iPad: Here's A Thought

Yesterday, Apple revealed a much hyped tablet PC, which apparently runs all current iPhone apps right out of the box. With a pixel doubler, if you want it, even.

Unimpressive as that may sound, this holds the potential to alleviate pixel shaders to great effect. Think 3D iPad games which run in hi-res, full detail on the pad, but scale down gracefully to the iPhone by simply turning down the amount of 3D detail. You know, for when you want to take Christmas Whack-A-Mole with you to the bus. I can see it happening.

No Tab Left Behind

With the new Safari 4 beta, Apple is taking a page from the book of Opera and Google Chrome and moving their browser tabs all the way to the top:

Safari_4_tabs

While not an incredibly original idea, it is a good idea and there are a number of reasons why. First of all, it optimizes the amount of vertical real-estate, which—with the upcoming surge in lo-res Netbooks—will matter more than you think. Secondly, it moves an important multi-tasking feature right up to the literal application top, where discoverability is great. Finally, it helps users understand what exactly tabs are: individual content windows with their own unique address-bar and history.

This is clearly a usability improvement, and I’m sure that now Apple has canonized what is (probably) an Opera invention, it’ll make both Mozilla and Internet Explorer scramble to get with the program. So much the better: thanks Apple.

There’s one aspect Mac users will miss out on, though. On Windows systems, when a browser is maximized, tabs that are topmost will fondle the very edges of the screen, an area of extremely valuable realestate. The little secret that makes this top screen edge price go through the roof is the fact that, to reach it, you have only to push your mouse upwards; soon enough your cursor will bump into the edge. When a browser window places its tabs there, that means you only have to worry about left or right to pick your tabs. Not even a shopping cart is left behind in such a system.

Alas, Apple has permanently reserved this top area of the screen for the ubiquitous file menu, which I’m sure a number of people appreciate. Not those who want to get the full flavor of topmost tabs though, they’ll be left out in the cold. Perhaps Apple should place tabs at the bottom of the screen instead? (Oh wait, that’s where The Dock lurks, spring-loaded to pop out when innocent cursors are nearby).