It’s been about four years since the iPhone hit the market, and more than three years since the App Store opened for business. So it’s about time Google finally got around to releasing a native Gmail app for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad… which is exactly what the company did today.
Update: The app has been pulled from the App Store temporarily while Google fixes a bug.
Update 11/16/11: And now it’s back and everything seems to be working properly.
While Google’s mobile web app for Gmail is pretty good, the new app is faster, offers a cleaner look, and adds a number of features that you don’t get with the web app.
You can download Gmail for iOS for free from the App Store.
The Gmail app supports push notifications and audio alerts — or at least it’s supposed to. Push notifications don’t appear to work yet. Second, it allows you to autocomplete addresses by grabbing contacts from your local address book as well as your Gmail account.
The Gmail app includes touch-based gestures including the ability to refresh your inbox by pulling down on the screen. You can swipe from left-to-right on the screen to navigate through your folders and Priority Inbox settings. You can also now attach images to an email message.
When you use the Gmail app on an iPad, there’s a split-pane view that lets you see a list of messages on the left while viewing a thread on the right.
Google’s Gmail app for iOS is long overdue… but after playing around with it for a few minutes, I’m tempted to say it was almost worth the wait. If you were expecting an iOS port of the Gmail app for Android, that’s not what you’ll find here. Instead you get a high quality email app which looks and feels like it was designed for the iPhone, and which offers a much better experience than you’ll get when using the Safari web browser to check your email from your phone.