Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Gmail Mobile: What’s new

Gmail users can rejoice as Google has introduced Version 2.0 of Gmail for Mobile for smartphones which the company claims is faster and more stable. Above all, it will give users offline access to their mails.

The offline access will let users read, edit and respond to any mail. The sending of replies (as well as downloading of new mails), however, takes place when connectivity resumes.

The new version works with BlackBerry devices and smartphones supporting Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) which includes the Nokia N series, Google phone G1, Sony Ericsson and Samsung phones as well as the Motorola Rockr. Motorola's Moto Q doesn't support the new version.

The all new Gmail Mobile
The mobile Gmail application was first released in 2005 and has since seen several minor upgrades, but this appears to be the first major upgrade.

"Our focus for this version was to make the experience faster and more reliable. We re-architected the entire client to push all the processing to the background, greatly improve the client-side caching scheme and optimize every bottleneck piece of code we came across," writes Derek Phillips, software engineer, Google mobile team on his blog.

Here's a look at some of the features that the new version packs.

Multiple accounts management
Those who have both a Gmail and Google Apps email account, can easily switch between them quickly. Users will no longer have to use two different mobile apps to access personal and work emails.

This means the new version allows users to log in with multiple accounts, without having to log out one and only then log in to the second. This multiple account support can be a boon for many users who use separate account for different purposes. Google has also made Gmail for Mobile available now in more than 35 languages.

Multiple email drafts and faster speed
Users can save multiple email drafts in their mobile phone, so that they can pick and choose what they would like to send later.

Also, the new version packs powerful shortcut keys. So if you have a QWERTY phone, you can use shortcut keys. Hit 'z' to undo, 'k' to go to a newer conversation, and 'j' to go to an older conversation. Now, that is cool for a mobile email client!

Users will also experience significant raw speed improvement, smoother scrolling, and no freezing. As per Google's claim their focus was to create a version that promised faster speed, was more robust and easier to use.

Basic offline support
Can't get a signal, or in flight mode? Not a problem. You can compose and read your most recently downloaded emails even when there is no signal.

Similarly, any outgoing messages will be saved in the outbox on the phone and sent automatically when coverage returns.

No support for Windows Mobile
Sadly, however, Gmail mobile Version 2.0 lacks support for many phones, especially those running on Windows Mobile such as HTC handsets. However, Google said users can try installing it at their own discretion if they have a Java Virtual Machine installed.

According to Google, the company doesn't officially support the application on Windows Mobile phones.

Also, not all of the Gmail features are still available for all phones which can be a letdown for users of these phones. Besides, some users have complained that V2.0 does not provide a full-screen mode which existed in the V1.5 and that could disappoint many Gmail fans.