Google Inc. released a native Gmail application for iOS into the wild today, then returned it to captivity just as quickly. The application, which was available for free on Apple Inc. devices running iOS 4.0 or higher, lacked certain critical features: such as the ability to receive notification updates when readers got new mail.
Google tweeted from their official Gmail Twitter account:
"The iOS app we launched today contained a bug with notifications. We have pulled the app to fix the problem. Sorry we messed up."
Google fans who chafed at using Apple's default Mail application have long-awaited an iOS app. Android users have a native Gmail application as part of the operating system's core features.
In our trial of the iOS app, the interface was slick and imports the look and feel of Google's new product suite. It looks especially nice on the iPad, where it's organized similarly to Apple's Mail app: One column on the left with a list of messages, and a right pane displaying a more detailed view of messages.
Some things, such as the "important" markers of the Gmail Priority Inbox, appear where they wouldn't in Apple's Mail. Actions like labelling and forwarding are handled through a drop-down menu. However, Gmail does not feel like a "true" iOS app; things like the log-in screen and attachment handling feel very much like a browser window in a fancy wrapper.
While the application seems to hit the right notes aesthetically, there are glaring functional omissions, such as the inability to download photo attachments to your Camera Roll – users are forced to open an image in Safari and save it from there.
The lack of notification settings is a problem, but has since been explained by the bug notice. Hopefully an updated version will fix the problems and turn the app into a powerhouse e-mail client on iOS.