If you thought that l’affaire Maps had soured relations between Apple and Google, then the latest Gmail app might make you change your mind. For, while the companies might be bitter opponents in the mobile space, Google seems to be in no mood to go slack when it comes to the quality of its own apps on iOS. Sounds strange and even oddly contradictory? Well, that is the stark truth, at least in our book, after experiencing the latest version of the Gmail app on both our iPhone 4S and iPad (3rd generation).
The update takes the Gmail up to version 2.0 and is one of the heftiest the app has received since it arrived on the iTunes App Store some months ago. And that is certainly evident from the size of the app, which has suddenly sprouted to an impressive 15MB. There are a number of changes contained in them thar MBs, though. To start with, the interface (once you have logged in – you will have to) is a whole lot cleaner and you have so much more white space around with fewer pesky lines. It is the best we have seen Gmail look for a while now – yep, even on Android.
There are other changes too – the app can support up to five accounts. What’s more, you can see the avatar accompanying each account and switch between them by clicking on each. Very neat, we think. You can also see the avatars of people in conversation mode in the mailbox which is a whole lot better than seeing only names as we did in the past. So much for the interface changes. But our favourite tweak actually pops up when you are sending a mail – you now can attach a picture and even better, a handwritten scribble to your mails. Now, THAT’s quite something. And the scribble part seems to be an iOS-only feature – the Android version of the Gmail app has it not.
You also can now respond to calendar invites from the app itself, scroll infinitely through messages, and of course, you can search through your mails much more smoothly, thanks to the fact that options start popping up even as you type. Push notifications now pop-up on your lock screen. And rounding it all off is yet another interface tweak that we just loved – when the app is in loading mode, you get to see a small sphere which changes colours in the pattern of Google’s own Chrome browser. Small touch, but very neat indeed.
There are still a few things missing, to be honest. We still cannot download attachments or open them in apps installed on our device, although we could edit attachments in Google Docs and print them. Honestly, we would have liked some seamless connectivity with Google Drive, considering there is an app for that as well. Finally, we wish there was connectivity with GTalk on the larger iPad screen. But even those caveats cannot hide the fact that we are very much in love with the Gmail app on iOS. Enough to almost make us give up accessing Gmail on the mail app on our iPad and iPhone – the attachment downloading ability keeps taking us back on that path, alas.
Still, this is the best Gmail has looked on a mobile device, in our opinions. Including Android. Ah, the irony…
Download from: iTunes App Store
Price: Zilch (it’s free)