Gmail iOS App Resurfaces, Bugs Gone but Still Disappointing

The 'native' app is just a wrapper for the web version and push notifications are useless

By on November 17th, 2011 16:11 GMT

Google has finally gotten around to re-releasing its Gmail app for iOS since the very poor launch a couple of weeks ago. Google had never offered a native Gmail app for iOS devices, the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, before.

So the excitement was high when Google unveiled it two weeks ago. Unfortunately, the app was completely broken and unusable so Google pulled it from the Apple App Store.

Two weeks later, Google has fixed the issues and is now making the app available again, bugs fixed.

Of course, it probably didn't take Google a couple of weeks to fix two rather obvious bugs, which probably shouldn't have been there in the first place, but Apple's approval process can be rather slow.

"Two weeks ago, we introduced our Gmail app for iOS. Unfortunately it contained a bug which broke notifications and displayed an error message, so we removed it from the App Store. We’ve fixed the bug and notifications are now working, and the app is back in the App Store," Google writes.

Problem solved then, the Gmail app is here, it's working, everyone should be happy. Not quite, while Google bills the new Gmail iOS app as a native app, it's basically just a wrapper around the mobile version of the Gmail website.

The core of the app is pulled from the web and Google just built some functionality around it, most importantly, push notifications. While this may seem like a smart approach, since Google's web apps are quite good, there are some rather big problems.

For one, the app will not look like a native since it does not use any native UI elements. But this can be forgiven. More problematic though is that this approach means that the Gmail app can't tap into the phone's address book, the calendar or other similar features.

The biggest problem that users are complaining about though is that the push notifications don't have any preview of the received message, in fact there's no text at all just sound/vibration. For many, this means that the notifications are basically useless.

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