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Gmail Revved for Mobile

Users of Google's popular Gmail e-mail service now have access to an improved version of the service on mobile devices. The search giant on Thursday announced a "Mobile 2.0" version of Gmail designed for BlackBerry and other J2ME-supported smartphones.

Devices that use J2ME (Sun's Java 2 Platform Micro Edition designed for mobile) includes the Nokia M series, Sony Ericsson and Samsung phones as well as the Motorola Rockr, among others. Version 1.0 of Gmail for mobile was released in November of 2006.

In a blog post announcing the news, Google software engineer Derek Phillips said a major focus of the new release was to make it faster and more reliable.

To that end, Google re-architected the client software, moving all the processing to the background, improved client-side caching and optimized various bottlenecks it discovered in a code review of the first version.

The speed improvements include smoother scrolling. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) also said Mobile 2.0 eliminates a problem with the screen freezing.

New features include making it easier to switch between Gmail and Google Apps. You can also now save multiple e-mail drafts in your mobile phone and select which ones you want to send later.

For devices with a standard QWERTY layout keyboard, Gmail now offers users shortcut keys. For example, hit 'z' for undo, 'k' to go to a newer conversation or 'j' to get to an earlier one.

You can also now compose and read your recent e-mails even when you're phone is out area or unable to make a signal connection. Also, Google says any outgoing messages will be saved in the outbox on your phone and sent automatically when you're back in coverage.

Analyst Maribel Lopez said Google is playing into a trend of users blending their corporate and personal online identities. "Most people are not going to carry multiple devices, so having access to your Gmail e-mail on a BlackBerry makes sense," said Lopez, CEO and founder of San Francisco-based Lopez Research.

And while Google is busy investing and promoting the emerging line of devices based on its Android software, Lopez expects the company to continue to be active on other mobile platforms, including Apple's iPhone.

"This is not the time to be exclusionary," Lopez told InternetNews.com. "Google is all about going after eyeballs wherever they are and with the business orientation of BlackBerry, it's a great platform for them to be on."