Archive for the ‘iGmail’ Category
It is always a pleasure when an app I have come to rely on continues to get better. I use iGmail (See iGmail, GMail finally done right on the iPhone) almost more than any single other app on my iPhone, maybe more than Twittelator and SimplyTweet, certainly more than Facebook.
So I immediately downloaded the update. After a false start (I had to delete and do a fresh install to get the app to work*), the new version is, as advertised, considerably faster on my 3G. That is what I notice first and most.
You can now set the shake motion to a variety of actions, instead of check all. There are a few other minor tweaks, and a new in app purchase premium package that adds pinch and zoom and a favorite icon. The premium package is only $.99, and since the base app, without push, is free, it is one more way to support the development of the app. The log out/log in process has been improved for those who have both a Google Apps account and a regular GMail account.
If you are a new user, of course, you will not notice the speed improvement…but for those of us who have used iGmail for a while, it is an impressive effort, and makes the app just that much more usable! Your inbox loads faster. Individual emails display faster. Controls work faster. I especially notice the difference on the Delete button. Very nice!
*(A note on the app store now says that the old preference file from the Settings App is causing the problem, and recommends a delete and reinstall instead of an upgrade.)
One of the great disappointments of my iPhone life is how utterly bad Gmail is on Mobile Safari. For whatever reason, Gmail crashes Safari on my 3G iPhone with OS3 every time. Even when it was working, it did not work well…since the way Safari handles text entry and scrolling does not allow you to easily trim email replies using the Selection tools built into OS3.
And I never did warm to the Mail app. It works. You can actually trim emails using Selection. But it does not thread emails as Gmail does…and, like many Gmail users, threaded emails is one of the things I have really come to appreciate about Gmail.
I have been using PerfectBrowser on the iPhone for my Gmail account…and it works really well. It is fast. It preserves the functionality of mobile Gmail faithfully, and you can trim posts relatively easily. It also works well with Calendar, Tasks, Reader, etc. I have been using it for all my Google needs.
However, recently I have returned to using a newly updated MobileRSS for Reader. I like that it does not open always to the unsorted list of new items (as Reader in PerfectBrowser does, though I have tried repeatedly to teach it to open to the Feeds view). That got me wondering if anyone has published a stand-alone Gmail app since I last searched.
However, somehow I missed iGmail, now in version 3.0.1. From the review in the App store, it seems like it might have had some growing pains, but the app as now offered pretty much provides everything I had wanted in a dedicated Gmail app for the iPhone.
It is really fast. It has great navigation controls (they literally float on top of the standard mobile.gmail.com controls…see screen shots). It has an excellent composition view with a generous sized text entry box that allows relatively easy trimming of replies (and scrolls correctly as Safari does not). The built in browser handles links really well…and does just as well with Calendar and Tasks as PerfectBrowser does. It even handles Reader, though in exactly the same way as PerfectBrowser.
The floating controls, by the way, are more than window dressing. They make up for a real lack in mobile Gmail, which in a browser requires considerable scrolling around to accomplish many actions. In iGmail the center floating reverse arrow will return you to your inbox without scrolling to the top of a long email. The forward and back arrows on the right and left will advance you the the next or previous email, and the top and bottom arrows take you to the top and bottom of your displayed inbox items, or the top or bottom of the open email, depending on what you are viewing (which is handy for reaching the reply button in an email…though there is a reply in the drop down menu next to Archive and Delete). You can hide them and reveal them using the little blue arrow at the bottom of the screen. Very slick and very useful! They work, by the way, just as well in the in-line browser.
But of course, its main attraction (and and one of the few things the iGmail developers charge for) is Push. For $4.99 you get a year of Gmail push to your iPhone. It is dead easy to set up. I have not yet decided whether I want Gmail push on my iPhone…considering the volume of mail I get in a day, and the fact that I already have push for Twitter, TWC, and FlightTrack…annnnh…not sure I want my iPhone beeping at me every two minutes for an email I may or may not want to read. Still I know it is a feature many have been looking for.
And I may actually buy a year’s subscription…if for nothing else than to support the efforts of the authors…since the app itself is free in the App Store. I can always turn Push off, or just leave the badge numbers on. (By the way, iGmail keeps an accurate count of unreads, even if you open emails from another app (Mail, Safari, or on your lap- or desktop in the browser.)
You can also install a little script on your own computer, if you have one that is on 24/7, and for a one-time charge of $2.99 set it up to handle your own push needs. This has the advantage of being a totally private solution since you do not have to share your Google password.
And finally, if you use Gmail through a dedicated url via Google Apps, iGmail has you covered. Again for a one-time charge they will set you up so iGmail works just as it does with gmail.com addresses.
The only thing it will not do, and this seems to be a limitation of how the iPhone syncs contacts since it does not work in the Apple Mail app either, is to use your contact groups for addressing group emails….groups are apparently simply not synced to the iPhone.
So, all in all, I can’t quite figure out why any Gmail user who owns an iPhone would not be using iGmail. The app itself is free. It works great. You can add Push if email push is your thing. You can use it seamlessly for accessing your Google Calendar and Tasks (or even Reader or your other Google stuff). What is not to like?
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