I’m a geek. I tinker with and develop things on your LCD. After waiting and eventually getting tired of waiting, I figured out a neat little way to get a “native” Gmail app on your iPhone.
What’s the problem? If you want Gmail, you can enter all of your SMTP/IMAP information into the Mail Application on your iPhone. But what do you miss out on by doing that? Everything that makes Gmail the most superior email client there ever was (seriously). For one, you lose the threading of emails into one email “conversation.” What does it look like when you’ve replied back and forth with some friends in an email? An organized conversation on Gmail. But an absolute mess on your iPhone app.
Why don’t you just navigate to Gmail on your iPhone’s Safari browser?
Yes, you get all of the advantages of Gmail. If you save the website as a favorite on your Home Screen, you even get a nifty – yet somewhat aesthetically unsatisfying – icon with your other apps. However, what happens when you tap it? It opens through your Safari browser; if you’ve opened it before, the phone could forget and open another tab in safari with the same Gmail website, leaving you with 10 Gmail tabs on your Safari at the end of the…hour; You lose about 40% of your screen real estate with the address bar and the bottom options bar.
Plus, it just feels ghetto.
Now why does using Gmail on Safari trump the Mail app?
The UI is interactively brilliant. And best of all, it operates like a real native app because HTML5 allows it to store information (up to 10MB) locally on your iPhone storage for offline usage. Suppose you were reading an email that contained an address for a party. You’re on your way to the party and need the address, but your AT&T 3G connection sucks (as it typically does). You can view that email again in an automatic offline mode.
A Gmail app that’s really the web Gmail app, minus the loss of screen room with Safari UI junk and the unending sea of new tabs. Using my brain for about 5 seconds and little-to-no elbow grease in Dreamweaver got this to happen beautifully. A tutorial for this solution is below:
Let’s do this people. Here’s the app icon on my home screen. If you’re wondering what the heck is up with my home screen, I have a custom sense UI running on my iPhone. I’m a big fan of Android and especially of what HTC has done with the UI on the HTC Hero/Eris. That’s actually not the main screen. Like Android, there is a home screen with a vintage clock, weather, and a gray pullout to this shelf of apps.
The Boot Screen
When you boot the app, you will even be welcomed by this neat boot screen as the site loads in the background. I’m a big fan of the Gotham typeface lately, so it naturally became the weapon of choice.
Point your browser to “http://www.satchelldrakes.com/gmail”. Pay very close attention to the next steps before doing this. They must be executed with tact!
Okay, here is the part that you need to do quickly. This app is nothing more than a portal to the Gmail website. In the HTML file that ports you there from my website, I have offset the loading time by approximately 4 seconds so that you can execute this next step. Once you hit “Go” for the website I’ve provided, quickly tap the “+” icon on the bottom bar of your Safari app. Next, hit the “Add to Home Screen” button and save it to your Home Screen.
This is an image of success. Once it’s saved, boot up the app to your new, functionally native, full-screened Gmail app!
The new app icon should load correctly, though if you didn’t choose to save it quick enough, you may have to try again. I got it on the first try.