Google Rushes Gmail App For iOS And Botches The Release

Image courtesy of Google
Image courtesy of Google
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Earlier today Google announced that the long rumored Gmail app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch was available in the iTunes App Store. A few hours later Google had to eat their words and pull the app from the store as several bugs were found.

I expect that some time in the next week or two the app will re-appear in the App Store, so when it does, why should one install it? The iOS Mail app is capable of retrieving and sending e-mail with Gmail accounts but it doesn’t support all of Gmail’s features like labels and priority inbox or doesn’t support them in the same way as one normally does with Gmail.

The app promises to bring a full Gmail experience outside of accessing it in a web browser, and the native app includes features not capable with the web app. Most notable is that the Gmail app supports notifications that tell you when you have received new mail.

I find Google’s release of the Gmail app for iOS to be interesting because one of the often touted benefits of Android over iOS is the Google experience as provided by native Google apps. If Google provides that same Google experience for other platforms that would seem to diminish an advantage of Android.

It has the appearance that Google is repeating another step that Microsoft took with their mobile products. Microsoft took a key feature of Windows Mobile that synchronizes e-mail called Activesync and made it available to companies like Apple and Google who then used it to provide synchronization with their e-mail servers.

The reason why Microsoft provided Activesync is that it made it easier for mobile apps to work with Exchange servers and it made it easier for Outlook to work with other back-end services like Gmail. Microsoft makes money selling more copies of Exchange and Outlook so it was better for their overall bottom line to provide Activesync even if it hurt Windows Mobile. While Google doesn’t make money on Gmail apps that don’t include advertising, they do make advertising money when you access Gmail on desktop web browsers and providing users with a good mobile experience for Gmail increases the chances they will use it and access it on their desktops.