A Month with Gmail

Last month I decided to really kick the Gmail tires and see what it could do for me as a more enterprise like email client. I was able to easily make changes in the settings to make it appear as though I was sending mail from my regular PSU account and not from gmail … it was also really simple to have my PSU email forwarded into gmail. I used several of the Google Labs features to make the environment work even better for me — the ability to easily integrate Docs and Tasks has been the real winner and has changed my workflow. On top of it, the whole notion of Labels and Stars you can turn your inbox into a very powerful solution. The other thing I absolutely loved was the easy integration with google talk. I very rarely open an IM client but did find it really useful within the gmail context.

This could be another one of my failed experiments and I’ll be back to my Apple Mail.app before too long.

With all that said, I think I am heading back to Apple Mail on my laptop and on my iPhone. Why the change of heart? This weekend I traveled to visit my sister in Easton, PA and my parents in Bloomsburg, PA and decided not to take my laptop along, instead relying solely on my iPhone. I can honestly say I didn’t think I could get it done with just the iPhone, but for 95% of what I needed to do the iPhone was terrific. Its that last 5% of my work life where it falls down.

For the first time in close to a month I found myself missing the client like feel of Mail app as I struggled with sending and receiving from the mobile gmail site. I do have my gmail coming into the iPhone Mail app, but when you do that you miss out on some of hte easy things the web client gives you and it doesn’t handle the return address correctly. I also found that the web client was flaky at critical times and the controls are a little close together. Just this morning I typed a long email in the web client on the iPhone and thought I tapped send, only to notice I tapped another link that pushed me out to the other google services. I just can’t afford those kinds of mistakes.

So, at the end of the day I’ll be heading back to the client based life in Mail app and will probably not be using gmail for work any time soon.

7 thoughts on “A Month with Gmail

  1. Hi Cole:
    Had a similar experience the last month with Gmail. Glad to hear someone else is thinking the same way. Think I’ll keep it as the personal e-mail client but not for work. I’d like to keep up with Google’s innovations but not at the expense of getting things done efficiently at work. Also, the thought of Google holding ALL of my email is a little disconcerting in terms of privacy.

  2. That seems more like an issue of using the web based client on the iPhone than a shortcoming of Gmail or of using it to front another mail account… why not configure the Mail app on the phone to use Gmail (with your Gmail settings to use IMAMP) than rely on the web interface?

    • Hi Alan. I agree that it is more an issue with the client on the iPhone, but when I do use mail app with gmail on the iPhone I give up some of the things that I liked about gmail in the first place. I was drawn to the search and star features of the web client and that stuff doesn’t rePly work the same in mail app. The biggest issue is that mail app doesn’t handle my PSU return address very cleanly.

  3. I configured my iPod Touch’s mail application to grab my Gmail using IMAP and find that it syncs pretty much effortlessly. I did the same thing with mail.app on my Mac, but rarely use it and rely on Gmail’s web interface anytime I’m interacting with a laptop or PC. For whatever reason, I never got into the habit of using Gmail’s mobile web interface. I should give it a try and see if I like it better than the touch’s mail.app.

    Regardless, thanks for the post. This is something I’d like to try as well to get away from the hated Outlook interface!!

  4. I’ve been using Gmail for both personal and professional situations since Gmail came out. Before that, I had used many different mail clients (web-based/off-line, gui/tui), except for the ones on Apple platforms: Hotmail, Yahoo, Netscape, Eudora, Outlook Express, Outlook, Pegasus, elm, pine, mutt, mail, etc. I am very happy with Gmail now.

    For personal email, I agree with Sara that it’s a bit scary that Google holds all my information and the access to all of it is protected by one single password. However, the convenience of Gmail interface and its ubiquitous availability outweighs its potential risks for me.

    I delete my sensitive email (e.g. those with password) from Gmail and have an offline copy of that information. This way at least I can minimize the damage caused by stolen password. I also make sure I don’t type my password on un-trsuted machines.

    For work email, Gmail has been very helpful. I love that it consolidates email of the same thread into one node (I believe newer mail clients will probably start doing the same thing). I also like its filtering function, which automatically sorts all incoming email according to projects, and sometimes time sensitivity. Efficiency boosts! Its sophisticated search function allows me to find down to one exact sentence.

    I do wish there were a way to sync Oracle calendar and G-cal since G-cal and Gmail work together beautifully. If PSU is going Gmail (and hopefully G-Cal and other services), all these problems will be gone.

    For me, the down time of Gmail and G-cal is so far less than PSU servers so that hasn’t been a problem for me.

  5. Sorry, I don’t get it. You found that when using your iPhone, you didn’t like the mobile Gmail app. And you didn’t care for the Apple Mail app on the iPhone, either. So from that, you concluded that you should change the client you use on your laptop? No matter what client you use on your laptop, it won’t change your iPhone experience.

    Mail and Gmail excel at different things – Gmail at organization and search, Mail at presentation and UI. I find myself switching between them from time to time on my desktop, but on the iPhone I generally use Mail. But then I try not to reply from the iPhone, because the keyboard isn’t so hot for composing long messages.

    For some of the other posters – the argument: “it’s a bit scary that Google holds all my information” is going to be true for ANY email provider, unless you set up your own server. I’ve never understood why Google so often gets singled out for privacy concerns.

    • Hi Bob … the big issue that I discovered was that Mail app on the iPhone wasn’t handling the “From” correctly. I plan to do more testing to try to make it work as I am missing the gmail experience already.

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