Is Google's iPhone app all that?

The Google app is sure to be one of the most popular early downloads on the iPhone's upgraded firmware--but it isn't much improved.

Gmail logo

With so much fairy dust in the air over Apple's day-early release of the App Store and iTunes 7.7 (for Windows and Mac), it's easy to get caught up in the excitement. And we are excited. Being the intrepid reviewers we are, we're taking the unofficial iPhone 2.0 firmware for a ride to test out some of these apps. Be forewarned that the firmware has not yet been Apple-approved for wide release and cannot be vouched for.

More than 500 applications are already clustered in the App Store, many of them tiny apps and widgets that have been custom-built to run natively on the upgraded iPhone firmware. Most of these early entrants are nearly identical to the iPhone-optimized versions previously released by publishers to work with the iPhone Classic.

iTunes 7.7

Google's app is a prime example. It opens with a blinking search bar and with the keypad already engaged. Like the optimized Web app version, suggested matches are displayed as the search begins; this time they are listed below the search field. Below the search space is a shortcut bar for seeing the array of Google apps, including Gmail, Maps, Docs, and Reader. These icons are themselves quick links for launching the Web-optimized versions of Gmail and clan.

The app does save a fraction of time in bypassing Safari's initial loading of the iPhone-optimized page and works without a hitch.

Catch the most recent news about the iPhone 3G and App Store.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.