It's the gift that just keeps on giving...
Google's 2009 resolution to relentlessly improve its Gmail experience took another step today as the search giant launched the new Html 5 enabled Android and iPhone versions of its online email client it promised in February.
Heavily designed and visually identical on both platforms (no, I'm confused as you why Google chose to show the iPhone) the redesign allows for faster loading, batch actions (archiving, deleting, etc) and even the first stage in basic offline support.
"When you go to gmail.com from your iPhone or Android browser, archiving email is quicker because it doesn't require a response from a remote server," explained Google Mobile engineer Rob Kroeger. "Instead, we cache mail on the device itself (using database storage on the iPhone and a device-local mobile Gears database on Android-powered phones). Actions like archiving or starring messages are first applied to this cache and then sent to Gmail servers in the background whenever a network connection is available. You only have to wait for a response from the server when you're requesting an uncached message or list of messages. As a result, you can start-up Gmail even if you're on a slow connection. You can even compose mail and open recently read messages while offline."
Other clever additions include what Google terms the 'floaty bar' - application shortcut buttons which move with the screen as the user scrolls through emails - and a progress spinner which removes the additional data overhead of downloading an animated gif.
Excitingly, Google says the change represents the new framework for Gmail with "faster performance, improved offline operation, new functionality, and interface enhancements that take advantage of the unique properties of smartphones" on the way so expect support on more platforms and in additional browsers soon.
Android and iPhone users will find the client on their usual urls and it is available to any Android-powered handsets or iPhone's running OS 2.2.1 or above. If you're not the type to embrace change (an odd characteristic for a TR reader) then you'll find the old mobile version still available via a link at the bottom of the client.
Everyone's a winner... by which I mean Gmail users.
Update: Google has also quietly upgraded the calendar app, refreshing the look and adding support for floaty bar responses to invites.