Google iOSOn Friday, Google released an updated version of its app on Apple iOS today.  The company now claims that the update brings iPhone users improvements to both speed and performance, with optimizations that will save users “a combined 6.5 million hours,” by the end of the year.  According to Google vice president of product management, Tamar Yehoshua, “Each time you open the app or do a search, everything will load just a bit quicker.”

Of course, that “bit quicker” is often just enough to satisfy the needs of busy, on-the-go users; but that is not all the update will offer, apparently.  In addition to the overall speed improvement, Google also says that the update will result in some news articles that appear in search queries loading almost instantly.

Google has developed “Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)” to compete with Facebook’s “Instant Articles” to handle this shift; tying it directly to Google’s iOS application. Basically, anytime a user taps on a story from any publication or any news outlet which participates in the AMP system, the entire article will load, as Google says, “blazing fast.”

And users will know which stories have been optimized for AMP because they are designated with a lightning bolt icon, and they will also appear in the top stories section of the Google search query results.  Those using the older version of Google search, through mobile Safari (for example), may have already been experiencing this benefit. However, some iOS users preferred the old Google mobile app for iOS because of things like voice recognition; these users will now be able to enjoy the AMP benefits too.

Yehoshua goes on to say, “Whether you’re searching for news from around the world or video playbacks from your favorite sports team, the Google app’s got you covered, faster.”

But while this is certainly the most notable change, the Google update also brings video highlights to the iOS Google app.  These highlights will let you select Google Now cards for professional sports matches: NBA and NHL games.  Both leagues are about to start their playoff seasons so, perhaps, this update came just in time.

Finally, though only indirectly related, Google has also released a new iPhone keyboard with the app, called Gboard, which lets you search and send information using emoji, GIFs, and more, directly from the keyboard.

Of course, the latest Google for iOS update is now available through the Apple App Store.

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