I must confess I have accessed GMail via my phone before, but it was through a Web browser on a phone-sized screen and therefore — rather icky. I was happy therefore to hear about Google’s new mobile client for GMail, which was recently announced on the Google Blog.
The homepage for the GMail application is http://www.google.com/mobile/gmail/, while you can get a list of compatible phones from http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=50425. That same page notes, “The Gmail application doesn’t currently work with BREW-based mobile providers (e.g. Verizon, Alltel, U.S. Cellular).”
If you do have a phone and a service provider that’s supported, you can point your phone at http://www.gmail.com/app to download the application. The URL appears to automatically recognize your phone type — downloading and installation took my phone a few minutes. Once downloaded and installed, you’ll have a familiar envelope logo on your phone menu.
Launch it and you’ll get a signin page for GMail. Signin and you’ll get a GMail page optimized for GMail — much nicer for me than the Web browser I was using. The standard GMail menu items — archive, starred, check, open — are relegated to your phone’s menu instead of being on the screen. The GMail app also has a few handy settings — you can stay perpetually signed in, preload messages and check mail in the background (recommended only for those with all-you-can-eat data plans) and use small fonts instead of large fonts (the small fonts are plenty big enough for me, and if you read ResearchBuzz at all you know how much I complain about small font sizes.)
It appears that the GMail application allows you to view messages on one page no matter how long the message is — I reviewed a couple of really large messages on screen. It’s not perfect (some of the messages have really odd line breaks) but I appreciate being able to see everything on one page instead of having messages arbitrarily broken up across several pages.
This is a nice application. I probably won’t take advantage of all the features like staying constantly logged-in — I’m too paranoid about losing my phone — but it’s far easier and more comfortable to check my GMail this way than through my phone’s Web browser.