These generic pages lack some of the navigation elements that are available on pages viewed with the iPhone and now the Nexus One. Through some hackery I was able to change the User Agent string on my N900 to that of the Nexus One to see what, if any, we may be missing...
The following sets of images are lay-ed out to show a screen shot of the page first using the N900's stock browser string then along side it, a screeny of the page using the Nexus One string...
First up. The User Agents as reported by >> http://whatsmyuseragent.com
Next is the standard Google Mobile search page >> http://www.google.com/m
The N900 is larger and responds to MicroB UserContent.css. My view settings are set to font size large. The Nexus one page has additional navigation elements at the top and displays the "Near me now" option. Even with the geolocation plug-in installed the generic N900 does not have "Near me now". From what I saw of it though, it's not a big loss as "near me now" searches only seem to produce 4 or 5 of the most popular hits. When I search for "Pizza" in a strange land I do not want to be presented with only Dominoes, Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, and Little Caesars anyway. Those I can get at home.
Next up is Googles iPage or Mobile home page >> http://www.google.com/m/ig
The Nexus One page wins here because of tabbed browsing and supported modules. Both page display the information you wish sent from your desktop iGoogle page once you log-in. Like the rest of Googles offerings, the N900 can handle all the options presented by the Nexus One page. However, Google doesn't know that yet and instead provides the generic page that can be used by everyone else.
Next is mobile local search >> http://www.google.com/m/local
Not much different but the N900 can use the geolocation plug-in on the Nexus One page.
Next are the results returned by each page. The nexus One page shows more detail because it has a link to the map instead of a thumbnail.
However, the thumbnail on the generic page responds to a double tap zoom from the N900 that takes you to the heart of the matter. The Nexus One link brings you to a page that has Zoom controls on it as well as page and direction elements. Tap out of the generic map to get the same elements on the generic page.
GoogleDocs >> http:/docs.google.com/m
You can see the iPhone's DNA on this generic page. The Nexus One page makes use of better resolution screens.
Minor changes in the documents view
The same with spreadsheets. Minor site navigation elements can be found on the Nexus One page.
And finally the latitude page without the zoom frame from my previous post. >> http://www.google.com/maps/m
Both will use the geolocation plug-in but the addition site navigation elements on the Nexus One page results in a smaller map.
I didn't include screenies from Google Mobile calendar >> http://www.google.com/calendar/gp
and Google Mobile mail >> http://www.google.com/mail/x because they a pretty much the same with the exception of the additional site control elements found on the Nexus One pages. As I said earlier, I have been using these generic sites since the days of the OG Nokia Internet Tablet and have tweaked my UserContent.css for mail so that it displays the way I want it to. An accurate comparison would have meant breaking my existing set up.
What does this all mean?
Well for one thing, Google's user experience is different for people with the iPhone and now the Nexus One. However the differences are minor, IMHO. Soon, a couple of programs will be available for you to change your Browser's User Agent on the N900 so you can try this yourself.
However, right now I can change this string fairly easily but I'm still using the stock one.
1. The added features found on the Nexus One page sound good in their ad copy but in practice, don't really add much. In some cases they take away from the usefulness of their generic counterparts.
2. A few of the Google pages like mail will actually redirect what they think are Nexus One browsers to another site. Because of this, these new pages do not respond to any custom CSS that you may have developed.
3. The best case scenario would be if Google configured their servers to recognize the capabilities of the N900. This wont happen if we all go a changing our User Agent strings to that of a Nexus One.
In fact, the best thing we could do to facilitate this is not to petition Google or bombard the forums hoping that they are watching. Instead, the best thing to do IMHO is to use the above pages and the "search the map" feature found in the previous post with your N900's stock browser string. Do it early, and update often. Google is a business that adapts quickly.
Search Google often with your N900 and visit pages that these searches link to and Google is more likely to accommodate.
It would be nice if these searches were for big ticket items like cars and appliances too.