Google released a new Web-based version of Gmail that will provide iPhone and Android phone users with faster access to messages and offline access. "You'll notice that it's a lot faster when performing actions like opening an email, navigating, or searching. And if the data network drops out on you, rest assured that Gmail won't. You'll still be able to open recently read messages and to compose over a flaky, or non-existent, network connection," wrote Google mobile engineer Joanne McKinley on the Google blog.
New features include the ability to select multiple messages
and archive or delete them. You can also mark a group of messages as
read/unread/spam. Gmail’s new Web
interface now sports a floating toolbar that travels with the page as you
scroll through a message or through your inbox. This bar provides easy access
to various actions without having to scroll to the top or bottom of a page. Labels
are now easier to read as well, and are more in-line with the labels you’d see
on your desktop. A search button also appears at the top of the screen to
provide easy retrieval of old messages. In the previous version, this feature
was buried at the bottom of the inbox.
Gmail’s new offline access really sets it apart. The application can store email messages on the phone using the HTML 5 standard for Web page design. In the case of Android, this feature also uses Google’s Gears plug in. In addition to making messages available offline, this feature also makes reading messages faster since they don’t have to be retrieved over the network after they’ve been cached on the phone.
With this new release, Google is showing just how powerful the mobile Web and mobile Web browsers have become. Google’s mobile Gmail application doesn’t need to be downloaded through Apple's App Store or Google's Android Market. Instead, it simply works after you point the browser to gmail.com. By putting the application on the Web, Google is able to offer Gmail to devices of varying platforms instead of creating separate applications for different devices as many other companies are currently doing.
The new Gmail for mobile supports iPhone/iPod Touch OS 2.2.1 or above. Devices with older firmware versions will be directed to the previous version of Gmail for mobile. All Android-powered phones are supported.
To get a closer look at the new features in Gmail for mobile, check out the video below: