Gmail goes native on cell phones

Permalink | November 2nd, 2006

Gmail on your cell phone

Not content with simply offering Gmail via a mobile friendly website, Google is now bringing your mail to your cell phone natively. This new Java app, which works with most Java enabled cell phones equipped with a data plan, was quietly released today. The company claims that their latest offering will close the gap between the classic way people get e-mail — sitting at a computer — and the slow-as-molasses reality of receiving e-mail on cell phones. But is it really faster?

My short review of Gmail for mobile is after the jump, so click the link to…

Running the Gmail Java application on a Blackberry 8700 over EDGE was less than impressive. Downloading the app only took a few seconds, but the first time launching the app — well, let’s just say it took a while … a long while. However, once the app was primed and loaded, it was very responsive. As promised, reading messages is relatively quick and painless — as long as you are reading an unread-preloaded message.

The application will display that last 30 messages in your Inbox, but it doesn’t offer you any way to view older messages. In addition, it would seem the more unread messages you have in your Inbox, the longer it will take the app to initially load (mainly because it is preloading those messages into memory). For those with a slower data connection, you might want to turn the preload feature off in the settings menu since the app is useless until it finishes loading everything.

Messages that are not new are not stored in memory and can take quite some time to pull down; from several seconds for a text-only message, to a minute or longer for messages with embedded HTML. Speaking of HTML messages, don’t expect them to look correct, or contain the complete message.

Bottom line — I’m a fan of Gmail, and even of their mobile Gmail site. I’m also a fan of their other made-for-mobile Java apps (Google Maps and Google Talk). Unfortunately this app is just not making the grade, at least not yet…

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