The Trouble with the New Gmail Mobile

Having now used the new Gmail mobile Java applet for a while, I’ve more or less gone back to the old HTML interface on my Treo phone. Here’s why:

  • The new interface is faster when running, but it’s slower to launch.
  • The new interface requires time-consuming mode switches. Specifically, in the old version I’m in my browser and I get to stay in my browser to do other things. In the new version I have to run a Java applet, kill it, start my browser, and only then navigate to a site of interest. That’s a pain, reminiscent of the dark days of running binary software on Wintel PCs.
  • There are some goddawful strange interface quirks, like non-smart editing (quotes don’t get inserted the way they should), and you have to pull up the whole frickin address book any time you want to send an email.
  • There is no one-key way to quit the app.
  • It asks me if I want to stay connected so it can get data, but then a) it asks me again (and again), and b) it still doesn’t check my mail.
  • Sometimes on sending emails it locks up so badly that I have to pull the battery from my phone and reboot.

So, when do I use it? Now and then when I’m in a crowd of Blackberry users on a transit train, plane, etc. The new interface looks very nice, even if it doesn’t work properly.


  1. Paul, Thanks for sharing your Gmail Mobile testing experience with us.

  2. I hope it will improve soon. If the market is just impress blackberry users it is really small.
    Maybe they should start it in pink to impress girls (I d rather impress girls than geeks :) )

  3. Paul, I wonder whether some of what you’re experiencing doesn’t have more to do with the Treo than with Gmail Mobile (I think you said you were using it on a Treo). I’ve been using it for awhile on a BlackBerry 7130 and I haven’t noticed any real speed or locking up problems — although you’re right about there being a benefit to staying in the browser, instead of another app you have to quit or switch from to get to the browser.

  4. Thanks for the comments. There’s always the hype and reality of situation. Thanks for shedding light on the new gmail mobile software.

  5. globalhawk says:

    i’ve tried it for a few days and can now say with authority that this is the first truly bad piece of software that Google has produced. it has nowhere near the ease of use or fit and finish of Gmail, Google Docs/Spreadsheets or Adwords.
    what does that mean? … that’s the real question: how did this POS get released? it’s not like it’s a little “Labs” project. it is heavily marketed on the Gmail splash page.
    were they not paying attention, was their tester team out to lunch, are they in a rush to release stuff, was it the pet project of a top manager? would love to hear insights from a GOOG insider on this.
    anyway i bet it gets upgraded or pulled quickly.

  6. It’s a bit buggy but generally runs pretty well on my phone (a Cingular 8125). Overall I like it.
    More importantly, my experience is that Google will fix the bugs and it will get better – quickly.
    I seem to recall you hated Google Reader too when it first came out(?) It’s pretty good these days.

  7. One time I’ve needed to power my Sony Ericsson phone off and on. But other than that, gmail has worked surprisingly well (even if I wonder what Cingular will charge me next month for the extra data).
    Just to make clear I’m agnostic on Google, we are successfully using Google Writely at work but I’ve tried Google Spreadsheets twice now and it’s been a bust both times.

  8. I haven’t had any serious issues with my Samsung A900. It works much better than the WAP version – especially the areas of search and addressing messages.
    It’s not as solid a product as Mobile Maps, but it’s better than the WAP version.
    I agree that it’s too slow to startup. There’s a preference setting that implies it would make startup faster. (I think it disables caching of messages at startup.) But it hasn’t been so slow to the point that I bother to change it.
    More of my take.

  9. I am using it for 5 days now and I can tell you that it’s fabulous. It is fast, good looking and reliable app. But one problem: if you have another account on Hotmail or Yahoo mail you must install another app. At a moment I am using Movamail with my all accounts (incl. Gmail) an soon enough I will be able to tell you witch is faster, and more cheaper.