Google, Why Don’t You Hang On To That Gmail App For A While?

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By now you’re probably well aware that Google released their long-awaited Gmail iOS app today, only to unceremoniously yank it from the App Store when people pointed out that it didn’t really work. Google offered a mea culpa by stating that they have removed the app while they correct the problem, and that they’re working on a new version to be released soon.

Here’s a thought: just keep it. At least for a little while.

I’m sure this must sound a bit petty, but people have seriously been waiting years for a native Gmail app, and they must have been awfully disappointed today. Even if we set the broken push notifications aside for a moment, the app itself was still… shall we say, lackluster?

Several people pointed out on Twitter that the app was just a slightly-tweaked version of the Gmail mobile web view that we’ve had access to for years now. Sure, it had some welcome additions, like improved search functionality and the ability to star emails, but it’s still essentially the same old thing.

What gives, Google? I can almost forgive the notifications issue — we all make mistakes after all — but what’s with releasing an app that offers little (if any) improvement over what was already available?

Now, I’m sure that Google will fix the problem and issue an fixed version in due time, but what they should really do is put it back in the oven, and leave it in there until it’s better than done. I realize that in the grand scheme of things I’m a nobody, but here are a few things I think Google should fix since they’ve pulled the app anyway:

  • Fix those push notifications: I think this one goes without saying. You can set up your Gmail as a Exchange account to make push work email, but a more streamlined solution would be much appreciated.
  • Fix the speed issues: One of Gmail’s biggest selling points is that you have so much storage space that you don’t really need to delete emails anymore. The Gmail app seems to have forgotten this though, because it tends to slow down when you try to scroll through your emails.
  • Add support for multiple accounts: Maybe I’m in the minority on this one, but I’d wager there are a fair number of users with multiple accounts. My personal and TechCrunch email accounts both run through Gmail, so being able to use the app in multiple scenarios would be a nice touch.
  • Let us save attachments from within the app: The stock Mail.app can handle this just fine, so leaving it out of the alternative doesn’t make much sense.
  • Make it worth using: In short, give us a reason to use it over the web client. This is a chance to really show that Google knows apps and can develop something that’s just as good as their web options, but catered to an iOS experience.

Or not. Like I said, I’m nobody and Google is, well… Google. Here’s hoping that the next version of the Gmail app (whenever it happens to go live) manages to erase the bitter taste that this release has left in my mouth.