File Under: HTML5, Mobile, Web Apps

Gmail Mobile Is Always on the Move


Google has updated its mobile Gmail interface for iPad users. The company announced the update Monday on the official Google Mobile blog. To see the updated interface, just surf to Gmail using Safari on your iPad.

Gone is the split-screen interface for composing e-mails. Now, you get a tasteful, lightboxed modal overlay — fewer distractions, cleaner and more room for the text of your e-mail. A screenshot is above. The changes will only show up for iPad users, and the new site (for now) is only available to English-language users.

It’s not a major update, but it demonstrates a new way of developing the web app that allows Google to respond more quickly to user feedback. Google switched the product over to a more easily-iterative HTML5 codebase last year. The mobile Gmail site gets updated more frequently — usually just small stuff here and there — and is becoming faster and more usable all the time.

On my own iPhone, I switched from the native Apple mail app to Gmail’s mobile web interface long ago, and I’ve never gone back. I still use the native mail app to send e-mails when I have to (from Twitter or Instapaper, for instance) but for everything else, I use the Gmail web app in Safari. In the early days, it was fairly painful, but it’s gotten much faster and much more usable since Google switched to the current iterative approach. The floating control bar, the swipe-to-archive gesture, the menu navigation and the way threaded conversations expand and contract are elegant, innovative enhancements that all web app developers can learn from.

What do you use for mobile e-mail? Native or web app? Let us know and tell us why you chose that route in the comments.

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