Update: Google has already pulled the app due to “a bug with notifications.”
The iOS app we launched today contained a bug with notifications. We have pulled the app to fix the problem. Sorry we messed up.
It looks like MG Siegler was right – Google has officially released an iOS app for their mail system, Gmail. The app – or, shall I say, fancy web app – provides Google Mail users with a native client to match Android’s. However, the nice difference between Gmail for iOS and Gmail for Android is the interface. Google has worked to produce a beautiful interface to match the rest of Apple’s beautiful OS.
Sadly, the long-awaited app lacks multiple account support and a few other features. This is a rather large disappointment and it still leaves Apple’s integrated iOS email client in the lead. Google could definitely add this feature in the future, but it’s strange that they didn’t add it right away. Keep reading for more on Google’s latest iOS release and some first impressions.
While Gmail for iOS is somewhat disappointing, it is official – and that’s what some people tend to prefer. It does beat the web app in interface quality, but it severely lacks in other areas. As I stated above, when compared to Android the interface is much better, but the features are lacking. Animations in the app are slightly better than the web app, but still lag a bit. There are a few bugs to be worked out as well.
In other bugs, many users have reported that the app’s push notifications should be in alpha testing as they do not perform the task well. Some users report that the notifications never reach them, and other say that the notifications are obscure and don’t relate to the current message at all. Whatever the case, Google really needs to start polishing their apps before releasing them to the public. Google+ had issues, Google Voice got removed and this one is far from “pretty fantastic,” Mr. Siegler.
Gmail for iOS features push notification alerts for new messages, threaded conversations, priority inbox, search, and many more vital features from the full version. Check out the full feature list from the App Store below.
● Receive notification badges for new messages
● Read your mail with threaded conversations
● Organize your mail by archiving, labeling, starring, deleting, and reporting spam
● Keep track of important messages with priority inbox
● Auto-complete contact names as you type
● Send and receive attachments
● Search through all your mail
Gmail for iOS is, of course, available free on the App Store here. The download is only 3.2 MB, so you can even grab it over 3G is you want!
Check back for some first impressions of the app and tell us what you think in the comments!
We can confirm that notifications do not currently work.
As for this being an “app,” it’s not. You can see above that it’s just a web app with an overlay of custom colors added by the app. It would be useful if it had notifications at least, but it doesn’t. The buttons are rough on the edges, as the whole app is. It seems like Google just didn’t spend enough time, if any at all, polishing this app. It currently is not worthy of competing with Apple’s app at all – or Android’s, for that matter.
While the interface is nice in certain areas, other areas are jagged and slow. The main sidebar that shows all your email folders just doesn’t fit with the rest of the app well as I would have thought. It needs to flow, just as the icon does.
The Pull-to-refresh feature is very well implemented in most areas. You can refresh both conversations and folders by simply pulling down on the screen. However, this exists in the current web app as well, so there’s no real change here.
My final thoughts? Work harder next time, Google. We know you can make something much more polished than this. It cannot, in any way, compete with Apple’s or Android’s apps. The web app is currently more stable than it in almost every area. Everything just feels rough around the edges, and without push notifications there’s really no reason for anyone to download this other than the novelty of it. Users might as well just add the current web app to their homescreen as a shortcut, because that’s the same thing this app does – except maybe with a bit of a different look.
At this point, Gmail for iOS is disappointing and I see no potential in it. They would have to drastically change some things to actually make an impression on the users. This section shouldn’t even be titled “first impressions” because there’s no way to be impressed by this.
More to come.