A Review of Gmail for iOS

Are you a hardcore Gmail user? The kind with multiple Gmail accounts, who compulsively archives, stars, and labels, and who relies on priority inbox and search to find your important messages? If you use an Android device, then you’re probably content. But if you’re a power Gmail user with an iPhone or iPad, then you might consider switching from Apple’s built-in Mail app to the Gmail app for iOS.

Overview of Gmail 2.0 for iOS

Gmail for iOS features


  • Search through all of your mail with the aid of text predictions
  • Easily archive, label, star, report spam, or delete messages
  • Switch between up to 5 accounts
  • Receive notifications of new emails quickly
  • See profile pictures and read your mail in threaded conversations
  • Auto-complete contact names as you type from your Google contacts or your phone
  • Respond to Google Calendar invites and Google+ posts right from the app

Sounds great, right? The app does a good job of capturing the key functions — as well as the look and feel — of Gmail in the web browser. For the most part, any Gmail fan should appreciate the features listed above, all which work well…that is, if you can forgive the app’s sluggish speed. Although the email notifications come through quickly, loading the actual messages can be painfully slow.

Gmail - waiting for incoming messages

In addition to its clunky speed, the Gmail app has some design issues to work out. There is no “next” button, so you can’t easily switch between messages; you have to return to the inbox to access a new email. And when you pinch and zoom, email text doesn’t reflow as it should.


Is it worth switching from Mail to Gmail for iOS?

You should consider switching to Gmail if:

  • you regularly search your archived emails in Gmail
  • you heavily rely on Gmail’s advanced features — labels, priority inbox, undo actions, and the option to archive or delete a particular message
  • you receive a lot of Google calendar invitations through your email account
  • you want the familiarity of Gmail on your mobile device

You should stick to the Mail app if:

  • you dislike waiting for incoming messages to load (Gmail for iOS can be frustratingly slow, especially in low reception areas)
  • you need email text to flow properly when you pinch and zoom
  • you want to quickly flip between emails in your inbox (Gmail offers no “next” button and its offline caching is unreliable)

For me, it comes down to having a seamless experience between my desktop computer and my mobile device, and so I choose the Gmail app. But I definitely look forward to future enhancements that address the problems listed above.

Have you tried Gmail for iOS? If so, what did you think?

Update: As of March 27, 2013, the Gmail app for iOS allows users to flip between messages within the inbox. For details, see the Gmail blog.

Published by

Erin Hayes

Erin is the Web and Marketing Assistant at the UCSF Library.

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