Almost everyone uses Gmail, or so it would seem. And why not? Google‘s done a decent job of providing free web-based e-mail with a calendar, shared documents, an RSS reader—all in one place and across multiple platforms. You can access multiple Gmail accounts from the iPhone OS native Mail app, and there’s a slick, full-featured mobile Safari interface.
Apparently someone thought that wasn’t good enough.
In brief, this app aims to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.
The app presents you with… the mobile Gmail interface, with a couple of buttons positioned directly overtop of the menus. There’s a button at the bottom to hide them, in case they interfere with navigation (which they do). Before presenting you with a login, the app pushes you two consecutive popups, sending you back to the Home screen, through Settings (and there are more options in the Settings for this app than in the app itself), and back to the app. I discovered that it is not, as is claimed in the first popup, necessary to go to Settings before continuing, but it did give me some idea of what the capabilities of the app were—that is, the “paid upgrades”.
There’s not much else to explain about the interface, since this app is basically a wrapper for the Gmail mobile Safari site. The only good thing about that is that it saves me showing you a screenshot of the contents of my Inbox.
This may sound harsh, but I am amazed that this passed Apple’s App Store review process. I’ve never been confronted with more pop-ups and… words in an iPhone app. The iPhone interface is visual; these developers don’t seem to get that. Even the “screenshots” in their App Store listing have extra labels (complete with hand-drawn circles and arrows) to explain everything. If you have to do that much explaining, you have missed the point of creating an intuitive interface. What they’ve done here is to take the Gmail mobile interface, add “features”, and somehow get it approved as an app.
What is interesting is the push notification feature (an in-app purchase—not part of the free app), which includes a handy feature to silence notifications for a period during the day (for example, when you are asleep). Push notification seems like a good idea on the surface, but since push notifications don’t stack, if you have other apps that use push notification (Howl or Foursquare come to mind) the iGmail notifications are likely to go unnoticed. Is that worth the price?
Frankly, unless iGmail has one feature you absolutely need (like using the shake gesture to switch to Google Reader), I don’t really see the point. It tries to improve upon something that doesn’t need improving, and ends up being needlessly complicated.Follow @macgasm