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January 19, 2009

iGoogle Redirects iPhone Users to the Standard Mobile Interface

iGoogle continues to make mistakes. After testing the new version of iGoogle without providing an option to end the experiment, after ignoring most of the complaints regarding the new interface, Google decided to redirect iPhone users to the standard mobile interface, instead of sending them to the iPhone-optimized interface. Apparently, G1 users were also affected by this strange decision.

"We've decided to direct iPhone users to the standard mobile iGoogle page. We've found that people hit iGoogle from lots of different phones -- we want to ensure you'll all see the same version. Most or all of your existing content should translate over to the standard mobile version. The only exception would be any gadgets that aren't compatible with most mobile browsers," explains a Google engineer.

The problem was that the iPhone-optimized interface included all the gadgets from the desktop version and the tabs, it was sleek and easy to use on a touch screen, while the standard mobile version only shows feeds and a small number of gadgets. Degrading user experience and taking away a lovely interface is not the best way to encourage people to use iGoogle.

iGoogle's forum has a long thread with complaints and some users suggest to change the user-agent in Safari because the iPhone interface is still available for other browsers. Here's one of the few polite messages from the thread:

"I have to admit I am quite surprised by the unofficial news that you have removed your previously excellent iGoogle adaptation for iPhone. I can understand that in times of consolidating services in order to increase your internal efficiency you need to keep down the number of platforms. But removing the iPhone support without properly notifying your users in advance and explaining the reasons why you do this is perhaps not the smartest move if you want to keep loyal customers and brand value. And especially since you yourself have found that iPhone users are very active web users compared to the other mobile platforms."

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