The first addition is faster address auto-completion, which means typing the first few letters of a contact's name or e-mail address will lead to a pop-up of possible contacts. The process is expected to be similar to the desktop version, and it works by reusing previously fetched matches in subsequent searches.
The second improvement affects Android handsets with a physical keyboard like the T-Mobile G1.
"Now you can use all those familiar Gmail keyboard shortcuts to quickly move through your inbox," Google wrote in its mobile blog. "For example, if you're reading an e-mail you can press 'u' to return to the inbox or 'n' to move to the next conversation."
Google brought a new version of Gmail to Android and the iPhone in April, and it completely redesigned the underlying code of the mobile version. The search company promises to continue to tweak the mobile version by incorporating elements from the desktop version.
The simultaneous release of the new features could be a slight shift in Google's mobile strategy, as it has generally released new apps for the iPhone first because it has a larger installed base than Android, and iPhone users tend to use the mobile Web more than other smartphone users. Android is expected to come on strong in the second half of the year, though, as Google expects up to 18 smartphones to be released from the likes of Motorola, Samsung, HTC, and other manufacturers.
InformationWeek has published a 360-degree analysis of the first Android-based smartphone. Download the report here (registration required).