App Review: Gmail — unofficial, officially bad

Jordan O'Brien
June 5, 2013



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Gmail is an app that the Windows Phone community has demanded for a while now, and it looked like their prayers had finally been answered — albeit unofficially.

The app is meant to be based off the code for the iOS Gmail app, but I can’t tell whether it is or not, as it looks more like an embed of the mobile site to me.

If you’re looking for a Modern-UI gmail app, then sadly that’s not here — instead choosing an app that is very reminiscent of what an iOS app or an Android app would look like.

When we finally got the app to pull down data — which took anywhere between 10 and 20 seconds, we immediately found the interface to be rather clunky and everything required 2 or more steps. It wouldn’t have been too bad if those two steps didn’t feel like a long and laborious process given how unsmooth the scrolling was.

In the built-in Windows Phone mail app, you may not have access to powerful Gmail features like labels, but at least it’s easy to select more than one message at a time — simply tap the left side of the email and voila. On Gmail though it was a whole different story, requiring you to access the menu and tap a button which was aptly labelled “select”. Whilst this worked, there was quite a bit of latency between tapping to select and it actually selecting the email you want.

That, unfortunately, is only the start of problems we faced with Gmail — in fact when on the tube it wouldn’t even function at all, throwing up a “page cannot be displayed” error message, as well as telling us that our login had failed. If you’re going to create an app, at least allow that app to be used offline — like the iOS version.

If you want to change any of the settings for Gmail, then you might as well not even bother with this app, as after persistently tapping the “gmail settings” button, we discovered that it doesn’t actually do anything. At least we’d rather than then incredibly irritating way the back button had be integrated, sure it worked fine when going in and out of emails, but as soon as you changed to another label, for example, tapping the back button would simply close the app.

Gmail users who value all of the organisational features that the service offers you will probably find themselves wanting to use this app, after all the features work — we can view labels, stars and more, but whether or not you want to put yourself through this gruelling app just for that, then that’s down to you.

We can’t help but feel disappointed by this app. It had so much potential, but failed to deliver — and for an app so sought after, that’s just not good enough. We’re remain hopeful that things will improve in upcoming updates, but with so much wrong, we don’t expect that to happen anytime soon.

Whilst there is a free and paid version, we definitely would not spend a single penny on it — even if you value push notifications. In fact, we wouldn’t even download the free version, unless you’re desperately in need of label support. If you use Gmail and you aren’t happy with the built in-app, then your best option would probably be to switch your entire email account.


About the Author

Jordan O'Brien

Technology Journalist with an unhealthy obsession with trains and American TV. Attempts satire far too often. (+44) 020 7324 3502

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