I’ve packed away my laptop for the night, so I thought I appropriate to write my latest installment of Geeks to Peeps both on and about a device which many people use to check their Gmail on a regular basis: a smartphone. Specifically, I’m going to focus on the mobile website for Gmail. While I access the site from an iPhone, everything I write about will work for any smartphone.
First of all, why would you want to use the Gmail website when all smartphones come with their own mail app? To be honest, it depends on your phone. For me, the iPhone’s mail app, while functional, is not a very intuitive interface. I haven’t used the Android or Blackberry mail apps, and you may find that those apps are more than sufficient for your email needs. It is worth looking at the web interface, though, and determining what method best meets your needs.
You’ll notice that every screen is optimized for your phone’s display, which makes navigating through the site quick and easy. Once you log in, you are met by your account’s inbox. Much like the full web version, your email conversations are bundled together, threaded with the newest response at the top. My only complaint about the mobile Gmail site is that images do not display in the emails. This is probably to maximize the speed at which the mobile site operates. I’m hoping that the eventual move to 4G speeds and the continual improvement of smartphone hardware removes that issue in the near future.
Navigation through the mobile Gmail site is quick and simple. A button in the upper left corner of the site always takes you up one level in the site’s hierarchy until you reach the top. You then see all of your top level folders/labels. Drilling down through the hierarchy is a matter of a few taps of the screen. Each view also has buttons or menus specific to where you are in the site. For example, in an email located in a folder besides the inbox, you have a button to move that email back into the inbox, while another button opens a menu with various actions, such as Reply or Archive.
The beauty of Gmail’s mobile interface is that there’s no configuration needed. All you need to do is go to the site, log in, and you’re in. This is one of the appeals of the website on a PC, as well. This is also convenient should you switch phones, or, for that matter, borrow somebody else’s to check your mail if you don’t have your phone with you. Of course, if you’re like me and you don’t care for your mail app, this might be the answer you’re looking for.