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Bill Bennett


GMail’s less than perfect iPad app


Although Apple’s stock iPad mail app is perfectly adequate and does a good job handling Gmail, Google created its own Gmail iPad app. This makes sense to people committed to Google’s mail service and wider technology stack.

It works fine for dealing with text mail messages, but fails badly when people send messages laid out using tools like HTML or, worse, text embedded in images. The mail body appears to the right of the message list – as shown in the picture above.

Often the text is tiny – in some cases in 4 or 5 point size – making it unreadable. You can, of course, zoom the message pane, but it’s clumsy when line lengths don’t readjust.

There are two lessons from this:

  • Why bother with a separate Gmail app when it does the job less well than the standard iPad mail app?
  • The problem underlines why you should stick with plain text in mail messages. Save the fancy stuff for web sites.



3 thoughts on “GMail’s less than perfect iPad app

  1. As you said, why bother, I use Gmail on the standard app, good enough for me, although it does still have a bug with refreshing uploads from time to time.

  2. People really don’t know how much of a struggle writing HTML emails is until they’ve done it. It’s one of the most difficult and frustrating things about the web.

    I would posit that given the quality of their other iOS apps, something is holding them back quality-wise here. A major bug or some restriction they’re trying to workaround or something. Maybe they have a dev blog about it somewhere?

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