The latest version of Gmail for the iPhone and iPad has an elegant new design -- closer to that of Google Plus -- and several new features. Some of the improvements merely bring it up-to-date with competitors. Others, such as search, should make you think about switching from Apple's Mail.
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Google released Gmail 2.0 for iPad and iPhone this week. The new version comes with a redesigned user interface -- closer to Google's Plus app -- and a few other minor features. I use Apple's iOS Mail program and wanted to find out first hand if it was time to switch to Gmail 2.0. I tested the app out on an iPhone and an iPad.
As we all know, Apple sets high standards for the user experience. Because Mail comes free with iOS, any alternatives have to offer a compelling reason to switch. Gmail 2.0 succeeds on both iPad and iPhone, sort of. The new design is elegant. It looks and feels a lot like Apple Mail with a few minor but noticeable differences. For example, Gmail includes much larger buttons for actions such as reply and forward. I loved that. Profile images are another feature that sets it apart from Mail. I'm not sure where the images come from -- Google Plus is one obvious source -- and anyone Gmail can't find an image for gets the first letter of his first name in white, on a green background.
I expected Gmail's search to be good, coming from a world-renowned search company. I was not disappointed. If there was ever a compelling reason for me to switch from Apple's Mail, Gmail search would be it. Mail gives me nothing but problems when I search for old emails -- and I have thousands of old emails. Not so with Gmail 2.0. I found everything quickly and easily.
In the blog post announcing the new version, Google pointed out a few new features such as multiple accounts, and Google Calendar integration. I don't see the big deal. In my mind multiple accounts and calendar invitations brings the app up-to-speed with the competition.
That's how I see the new app overall: Elegant new design, and a bunch of features that bring it up-to-date with its peers.
If Gmail is your go-to email service, then download the new version immediately. Gmail 2.0's elegant new interface rivals Apple Mail's. And although features like multiple accounts and meeting invitations aren't ground-breaking, it's good to finally have them. Best reason to leave Apple Mail for Gmail: Searching for emails is a lot easier.
Elegant new interface.
Search is fantastic.
Gmail account required.
New features merely bring Gmail 2.0 up to par with peers.