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.