Google announced the first major mobile application of its newly rebuilt web interface today, Gmail for the iPad. Although Gmail has always been accessible on the iPad, this so-called "Iterative Web App" fixes a number of bugs on the iPad (particularly related to scrolling, among other issues). It also provides an improved tablet-oriented interface for composing emails.
Google calls this an "Iterative Web App" because they will be releasing a number of interface improvements for their Gmail products on mobile devices. According to the Google mobile blog,
When you write an email you’ll now get a big full screen compose window instead of splitting the screen between your inbox and the compose view. More text is visible at once and there are no more distractions with messages on the side. We’ve also fixed problems that prevented scrolling on long messages.
This isn't some revolutionary new partnership between Apple and Google. No fences have been mended and this isn't an approved App. Check out the next statement from Google:
We’re continuing to experiment with the large touchscreen and tablet form factor so send more feedback if you have suggestions. To try out Gmail on the iPad, just go to gmail.com in Safari.
Nope, this is just a web app optimized for the tablet form factor. And who is the only manufacturer with a tablet in wide circulation on which Google can tweak and pretty up the interface to fully exploit the tablet form? That's right: Apple. It's no surprise then, with countless Android tablets waiting in the wings, that Google would be perfecting its tablet interface for the core product in Google Apps. Consider this Google's usual beta approach, not to mention a nice workaround to Apple's App Store lock-in since the new product is browser-based.
The tablet is new for everybody. Google has the mobile interface down for phones, as do a number of client applications. Take a smartphone and put it on steroids, and suddenly you have new use cases and important new UI considerations. No reason not to work out the bugs on the competition, right? I expect we'll be seeing some pretty nice Apps interfaces for the new Android tablets when they drop.