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8/20/2010
02:09 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Google, Yahoo Update iPad Email User Interfaces

Both Gmail and Yahoo! Mail have introduced new, HTML5-powered email offerings for the Apple iPad.

Google has been using HTML5 to enhance the browser-based version of Gmail for both the iPhone and iPad. The most recent update makes improvements on how users interact with multiple conversations. Google explains in a blog post that it wanted to reduce user frustration and confusion.

Google said, "In the past, performing actions on selected conversations was awkward. There were two similar toolbars on the screen: one on the bottom left and the other on the top right. The former affected the selected conversations, while the latter affected the currently open conversation. Since the toolbars’ buttons looked similar, it was easy to mistakenly use the wrong toolbar. Sound confusing? It was.

"In the new interface, selected conversations are displayed stacked on the right panel for easy organizing, archiving or deleting. The second toolbar is gone so it’s always clear which conversations you’re working with."

I tested the new Gmail interface for the iPad, and it works very well. I was pleased with the speed of batch processes with the new tools, and the card stacking has an appealing visual feel to it. Google said that it also made use of CSS3 transitions to give Gmail in Safari a more "native" look. True enough, you might almost forget that you're using the iPad's browser and not a separate application.

Yahoo also gave its Yahoo! Mail an HTML5 boost this week. According to Yahoo, the new version will cache messages locally so that they can be accessed when the iPad is without Internet.

Yahoo! Mail also gains better search functionality. The app's search tool can be used to search the entire inbox, specific folders, as well as Smart Folders (which are reserved for important contacts).

Last, Yahoo! Mail for the iPad has improved multimedia capabilities, including a better picture viewer which allows users to view pictures directly in the inbox. Similar to how Gmail is organized, Yahoo! Mail uses two separate panes to make reading email easier.

Both the Gmail and Yahoo! Mail updates are already available from the iPad's Safari browser.

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