Incoming: A Native Gmail iPhone App. Finally.

Ever since I bought the original iPhone in 2007, there’s been one app above all others that I’ve been sorely missing: Gmail. Of course, back then, there were no native third-party apps. But a year later, when those came, Gmail was still nowhere to be found. 

At first, the talk was that Apple wasn’t going to allow another mail app on their device. Then it was that Google was simply focusing on the mobile web (they’ve had a pretty good mobile web version of Gmail for a while). Then it was the strained (to put it mildly) relationship between Google and Apple. Still, other Google iPhone apps came. But never a Gmail one.

Until now.

Google is on the verge of launching their native Gmail app, multiple sources tell me. In fact, I believe it has already been submitted to Apple for review. If it gets approved, it should be out soon. And I think it’s going to be approved.

This is great news for a couple of reasons. First: native Gmail app! Awesome. Second: those who have seen the app tell me it’s pretty fantastic. Perhaps even surprisingly so.

But again, Google has had a nice mobile web version of Gmail optimized for the iPhone for some time, so what’s the big deal? Well the real big deal is Push Notifications. Finally.

Perhaps the biggest issue with using Gmail through the iPhone’s native mail client is that Gmail is not Push-enabled. Yes, you can hack it to work through Exchange, but then you lose other functionality, such as the ability to star messages via flags.

The native Gmail app will likely bring other key functionality as well: like Priority Inbox and one-click starring of messages. Other possibilities include some of the stuff Google is about to roll out for Gmail proper: like contact icons, better threading, and deep searching functionality. Maybe there will even be some Google+ integration, which Google is also hard at work on for Gmail.

Google doesn’t have the greatest track record with their iOS apps (they’re often full of bugs and fairly ugly to boot). But again, all indications are that this is a good one. And I believe it’s the first one built after Google’s new commitment to design as a core feature across all of their products. 

Reached for comment, a Google representative had none. No surprise there. 

A killer Gmail experience is something that Android users have long been able to hold over the heads of us iPhone users. Not anymore. Pending approval, of course.

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