Google was busy Tuesday, announcing updates to two major apps for Apple devices, Gmail and YouTube.
The app for Google’s video service returned to the iPad Tuesday after its dedicated app was removed in Apple’s latest operating system when the licensing deal expired. Google released a YouTube app for the iPhone shortly before the iPhone 5 launched in September, but did not do the same for the tablet. The app released Tuesday works on both devices and retains the channel-based navigation and layout features of the site. The update, YouTube said in a blog post, speeds up video start-up and has better support for Apple’s AirPlay feature. About 25 percent of YouTube’s traffic comes from mobile devices, the company said.
Google also made a long-awaited update to its Gmail application, completely redesigning the app that was released a year ago to address complaints. Soon after that first release, Google had to fix a bug that made the app crash frequently.
The new app is cleaner and more flexible than its predecessor, allowing users to flip easily between accounts and sign in to as many as five e-mail accounts as once. Users can also RSVP to Google Calendar events from inside the app, and there is some Google+ integration. It has auto-complete and auto-sizing features that make sending and reading messages on a small screen much easier.
The Gmail app’s new layout doesn’t take many navigation cues from Sparrow, the popular e-mail app that Google recently acquired. In fact, according to tech blogger MG Siegler, the Sparrow team may not have had much input into the redesign. A couple of features from Sparrow, such as its unified inbox, would be useful in the new Gmail app.
Still, the Gmail team seems to have taken Sparrow’s concentration on minimal, functional design to heart.