I have just been catching up on my news feeds and I saw this post about Google’s update to its mobile client.
Whether you’ve lost signal on the subway or turned your phone’s wireless connection off on an airplane, you no longer have to wait to read and compose your Gmail or Google Apps email on your phone. Today, we’re happy to introduce Gmail for mobile 2.0, designed to be faster and more reliable in low signal areas and to even support basic offline access on phones like the Nokia N95, Sony Ericsson W910i, and BlackBerry Curve. Our latest version of Gmail for mobile also allows you to access multiple Gmail or Google Apps email accounts from the same application.
To find out more about Gmail for mobile 2.0, check out this post on the Google Mobile blog and watch this demo video:
Here is a summary of some of the features from the Google Mobile blog:
- Overall performance improvement: You should experience significant raw speed improvement, smoother scrolling, and no freezing.
- Multiple accounts management: If you have both a Gmail and Google Apps email account, you can easily switch between them quickly. You will no longer have to use two different mobile apps to access personal and work emails.
- Multiple mobile email drafts: You can save multiple email drafts in your mobile phone, so that you can pick and choose what you would like to send later.
- Powerful shortcut keys: If you have a QWERTY phone, you can use shortcut keys. Hit ‘z’ to undo, ‘k’ to go to a newer conversation, and ‘j’ to go to an older conversation. See Menu/Help in the app for more shortcuts.
- Basic offline support: Can’t get a signal? Not a problem. You can compose and read your most recent emails even when there is no signal. Also, any outgoing messages will be saved in the outbox on your phone and sent automatically when you’re back in coverage.
I have had the Gmail mobile and its Google Apps equivalent on my E71 and, before that, the N73 for a while now. For the most part I have been using my E71’s built in mail client and occasionally switching to the Google apps when I feel like a change or want to search my mail (you can do that with the Google mobile apps).
This update is pretty zippy and I like the ability to switch between multiple Google mail services (my personal and work email accounts run off Gmail and Google Apps, respectively). Before this update I had two apps installed on my phones and had to exit the one and open the other to check both mail. With this update the Google mobile app becomes a viable alternative to my E71’s built in mail service, at least from the perspective of handling some of my email requirements (I don’t think it is possible to set up the Google mobile app to be the default mail client when I create email from my Contacts or elsewhere on my phone using the phone’s menu options – let me know if I am wrong?).
The offline support, for one thing, in the update is a fantastic addition because the previous versions have been dependent on the phone being online.
(I signed up for Nokia’s beta email service the other day to see what all the fuss is about and while it looked appealing at the time, the sign up process was a little convoluted and it is going to be a paid service when it moves out of beta so I haven’t done much with the service since signing up. The benefit of that service is that it will give users access to up to 6 email accounts over a secure connection but since my email is pretty much running off Google’s mail services, the new mobile app is a better option for me. I just don’t find the thought of paying to receive my free email appealing so even if the new Google app wasn’t available, I’d probably just stick with the E71’s (pretty good) email client.)
I had my E71’s mail client automatically retrieving headers from my mail accounts. I’ve disabled that and I have the new Google app running in the background. It has a notification function so I want to see how that works. One question I have is what impact having it running in the background will have on my phone’s battery. My E71 seems to have a 2-3 day battery life with the way I use it (I use it for data quite a bit, alternating between mobile data and wifi as well as for GPS – still playing). I think having the automatic retrieval on probably shaved half a day or so off that with the periodic checks during the day.
All in all it seems like a great update. I am curious whether I can substitute this app for my built in mail service when it comes to composing mail using the phone’s menu options. I know I can customise some of the keys to activate the service when I do want to send/receive email but that isn’t quite full integration.
Have you tried out this version? What do you think?