Thursday, April 30, 2009

Web Apps - Google Showing the Way (Again)

Once again - Google has built a web based application which is superior to a regular client application. I am referring to the improved Gmail web application for iPhone and G1. The web app was released earlier this month and I took plenty of time to try it out. I have switched now and I am only using web Gmail on my iPhone.

I have noted that the improved web app has, largely, been greeted positively but most reviewers still seems to refrain from switching from the mail app - for instance, as reported on The Web Worker Daily and by bloggers such as Matt Thommes. Email usage and habits may account for some differences of how the native mail app is compared with the web app but I wonder if the reviewers had the patience to really give the web apps a fair chance.

The web app implements key Gmail functionality such as threaded email conversations and labels (and stars). The proper search functionality is an added benefit. But the benefits goes beyond that and the app is, in my view, much smoother and more responsive. It's interesting that the inherit Ajax functionality of the Safari browser offers a richer experience than the native applications - the floating bar is probably the most obvious example of this. I also find it possible to accomplish more with fewer actions in the web interface.

The only real down-side I see at this point is that some buttons are a bit small, such as the refresh button.