A finger-friendly iGoogle returns to iPhone and Android handsets

iGoogle returns to the iPhone, and now the Android too. It lets you get at your iGoogle widgets on your handset in a more orderly fashion than before.

Google has been once again revamped its iGoogle start page for easier use on iPhone and Android handsets. It lets you see and interact with your gadgets in a similar fashion to the desktop version, by making use of tabs and displaying content that runs in iFrames. The previous version, which was mysteriously discontinued by Google in late January, simply put everything into one, large vertical stream, and required you to go back and forth to get at different sets of widgets.

One nice feature that was not found in the previous version, is the option to set certain widgets to automatically open and load when you first start iGoogle. Normally you have to open these up for it to pull down the data. Next to this option there are also controls to move them up and down the page which is specific to the mobile site, and will not rearrange the order of your widgets on the desktop.

As far as compatibility goes, the newer iteration of the service handles Ajax better, meaning you can get updates from specific widgets without refreshing the entire page. It's also borrowed a few tricks from the mobile version of the Google News site, allowing you to view and expand news story previews without leaving the page.

There's still the issue of Adobe Flash compatibility though. Widgets that are written in Flash still won't work unless it's supported in your browser, and for Android and iPhone that means you're currently out of luck. That's kind of a bummer considering how many cool Flash widgets there are for iGoogle--especially the games.

When Flash eventually makes its way to both platforms (which will be sooner for Android users), iGoogle has the potential to mirror some of the usefulness found on its desktop counterpart. Even with this update, however, it remains a lightweight, and useful alternative to installing widget-like apps on your phone.

The new iGoogle for iPhone and Android phones has been streamlined from the old one and now supports widgets that take advantage of Ajax, and iFrames. (Click to embiggen.) CNET
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