Monday, June 18, 2007

The Google Phone

Last week His Jobsness announced the US release date for the iPhone (June 29 @ 6pm if you're interested) along with its revolutionary 3rd party API in the form of... a web browser.

As much as I'd love to be a part of the fanboi love-in, there's just no way I can justify the price (let alone the 2year contract lock in) -- shiny hunk of goodness that it is. Damn it to hell, but my 3yo SE 910i is more than adequate for making calls, checking email, and browsing the web.

My soul consuming desire appreciation of the iPhone is deferred by the phone I really want -- a gPhone, connected to all the Google goodness I use every day. Lucky for me, my Sony Ericsson also provides a developer API just like the iPhone(!) and Google has written a bunch of applications that support it!

Watch and marvel as I turn my Sony Ericsson P910i into a gPhone...

For easy phone reference, here's a link to a phone-friendly list without the commentary at:
Note: If you've got a Java enabled phone, I'm going to recommend you use Opera Mini. I can confirm that it displays all the Google Mobile sites properly (colours and layouts are correct).

1. Google Homepage (iGoogle)

An excellent place to start your online mobile adventures. You can select which modules you'd like in your mobile homepage based on your desktop homepage here:

I have mine setup to include news, reader, and mail feeds so my iGoogle Mobile page effectively provides shortcuts to the other mobile sites I use.

2. Blogger
· MMS (US Only)

In the US you get the simplest option using Google Mobile Blogging. Outside the US (and Americans with unsupported providers) it's just as easy using Shozu. Download and install the Shozu client and add 'Blogger' as a new destination.
IMPORTANT: There are two versions of Blogger available on the Shozu site -- one specifically mentions it is not compatible with the new Blogger. Keep looking! There's a new one that does.
Once you've installed the phone client and added Blogger as a destination you can send any picture as a new blog entry on Blogger. When you send, Shozu will let you set a post title and add some blog text. Your formatting options are limited, but it's a perfect way to blog on the road.

This is what a blog post from my phone using Shozu looks like. No post-editing was done.

If it's a text post your after, just enable the send-to address in you Blogger settings and add the email address from there to your gMail contacts.

3. Google Maps (and local search)
Java Midlet (

Java client that shows map or satellite view of most of the world using Google Maps. Includes local search, driving directions, and for select cities even traffic info. Confirmed to work in US, UK, Europe, and Australia -- but it should work for any location that Google Maps supports.

Lets you save favorite places for easy reference on the go. If your phone is GPS enabled it'll put a blue marker on your current position.

On my SE the 5 function scroll wheel lets me move the map up (scroll up), down (scroll down), left (scroll wheel back), right (scroll wheel forward), zoom (scroll wheel push).

4. Google Calendar
· Website ( -- '(Google) Calendar'

The Google mobile calendar site will let you view your Google calendars in agenda mode.

It lets you select which calendars you want to include as well as specific event details and adding new events but lacks the ability to modify or delete events.

Alternatively if you're lucky enough to have a compatible phone, GooSync will synchronise your Google Calendar with your phone's native calendar for the low-low price of nothing. It supports updates, alarms, and two-way syncing. For a small subscription they support syncing to multiple calendars.

5. Picasaweb
· Upload:
3rd Party Client (
· Viewing:
Google Reader for Mobile ( -- '(Google) Picasaweb'

Uploading Images
ShoZu provide an excellent free Java applet that's available for most Java enabled phones. You'll need to download their client and configure your account on their web site, as simple as adding 'Picasaweb' as a destination. Logging in to your Google account is handled the new safe Google authentication way.

Viewing Albums
Google Reader (desktop version) subscribe to each album you want viewable on your phone. Tag all the albums 'Picasaweb'. The RSS feed for each album is constructed like this:
(For example:

Then navigate to Google Reader (
mobile) on your phone. Choose 'Filter by Tag' and select 'Picasaweb'. Then just bookmark the result -- '(Google) Picasaweb'.

Reader will show a list of photo names, clicking on an item will show a thumbnail of the image, but won't mark it as 'read' -- so the whole album will stay available.

6. GMail
Java Applet (
Website ( -- '(Google) Mail'
· POP3 (

What's a smart phone without email?

The Java client is excellent -- very fast and supports most GMail functions. The web interface is good but lacks the bells, whistles, and speed of the Java client. The POP3 settings lose all your GMail features (like tags, stars) but work natively with your phone's email program. No push support though.

7. Google Reader (RSS Feed Reader)
· Website ( -- '(Google) Feed Reader'

Optimised mobile UI for Google Reader.

You have to set up your feeds in the desktop version, but then you can read and filter (by star, tag, or feed).

I read through the headlines and feed content, starring items I want to follow up when I'm properly online.

8. Google News
· Website ( -- '(Google) News'

Shows Google News formatted for your phone. Lets you customize which news sections are visible, then you can expand or collapse whole sections at a time.

9. Google Search
· Website ( -- '(Google) Mobile Search'

Newly updated, provides comprehensive mobile search that remembers your location to provide intelligent results for local businesses, movies, and weather.

10. Services Still Required

GMail Contacts
Take a leaf out of Yahoo's book and provide a GMail API. At the very least provide API access to contacts so someone clever can sync my Gmail contact list with my phone.

GoogleTalk (with Voice)
I want my voice enabled GTalk client straight from Google. Bandwidth be damned!

Google Docs & Spreadsheets
My phone has a built in Excel, Word, and PDF viewer -- I'd love it if I could view and edit my Google Docs and Spreadsheets. Maybe someone out there can write a service to sync my phone's Todo list with a Google spreadsheet?

Google Groups
I love Google Groups, please Google, give me a way to access them on my phone. Please?

So -- what else is missing? What do you want on your phone before your iPhone envy is quenched?


  1. It's about location. Google will be sort of main iPhone feature ;))
    So think about it.

  2. If you want to Gtalk with Voice over your phone you must try Fring. Works good. Ive called my gtalk contacts who are online on the road and its pretty damn cool.

  3. Anonymous7:40 am BST

    Reto, great compilation - thanks!

    Personally I'm waiting for a Gmail Client for Windows Mobile. I have a Treo 750 and would love the Original Gmail Client. Have even thought about going back to a Nokia, despite their lack of a touchscreen.

    Will Google release one? What do you think?