Update: Google has announced on Twitter that it’s pulling the app temporarily, while fixing the bugs. We’ll let you know when it comes back.
Both free and universal, the app’s main goal is to duplicate all the bells and whistles already available to Gmail customers who use the service through a traditional web browser. These include being able to read mail with threaded conversations, and organizing the emails by archiving, labeling, starring, deleting, and reporting spam. In addition, the app provides notification badges for new messages.
Other features include:
- Keep track of important messages with priority inbox
- Auto-complete contact names as you type
- Send and receive attachments
- Search through all your mail
First Up – An Error
The first time you enter the Gmail app (on both the iPhone and iPad), you’ll see a pesky “Notification Error.” Once logging into your Gmail account for the first time, however, the error message goes away never to return. From there, the app looks very much like…Gmail on a Mac or PC.
Once logged in, by default, you’ll see your Inbox, including those messages marked “Important,” “Starred” or “Everything.” Clicking on “Menu” at the top left brings up your menu on the left side of the iDevice screen. You can also swipe left to right to bring up this menu. While the menu looks fine on the iPad, on the iPhone/iPod touch, not so much. Frankly, there isn’t enough space available on Apple’s handset for this design to work, as this screenshot shows:
Sending an email is as simple as selecting the “Compose” button at the top, which brings up a very nondescript (and underwhelming) composition page. Here, you can add recipients(s), subject, and yes, whatever photos you’d like to attach.
Good and Bad
On the downside, the Gmail app doesn’t support multiple accounts (at least right now), nor can you view more than ten Inbox emails when offline. However, you can write draft emails even without an Internet connection, which is nice. These emails go out once a connection is found.
Overall, if you enjoy using Gmail through your desktop’s web browser, you’ll love using it via the native app, at least on the iPad. Unfortunately, in its present format, the app doesn’t look nearly as nice on the iPhone/iPod touch, although it is functional. Hopefully in future app updates, Google will recognize that an interface that works well on the iPad, doesn’t necessary click on the iPhone/iPod touch. Time will tell.
The Gmail app is available now in the App Store.