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Gmail for iOS relaunches with sleeker interface, new features

Google on Tuesday relaunched its official Gmail app for iPhone and iPad, redesigning it with a sleeker user interface and an overall increase in, well, the app's Googleness.

The first version of the Gmail app--released, unreleased, and released again a year ago--wasn't always widely loved by users who found its features limited compared to the Sparrow application or even, sometimes, Apple's native Mail app. It wasn't much of a surprise, then, that Google ended up buying Sparrow, nor that this new Gmail update seems to incorporate some Sparrow-like features.

The first thing users will notice--after taking a gander at the stripped-down UI--is that they have more options: The Gmail app now lets users access up to five different Gmail accounts from within the app, a feature designed for power users who keep different types of communication in different accounts.

But Gmail doesn't just let users do more Gmailing; it also offers tighter integration with other Google services. If you receive a calendar invite in your inbox, for example, you can confirm straightaway, instead of clicking and transitioning to another app to finish the process. And there's also support for posting to the Google+ social network directly from your email.

One more way Gmail is now a bit Googlier: The search function now predicts possibilities while you type your query--much like Google's search engine offers likely inquiries in a drop-down box. (See the image at the top of this page.) The predictions don't catch all your commonly used phrases, but the new function will make it easier to find those old emails from a particular co-worker.

A final new feature: The inbox now scrolls "infinitely"--no requirement that you tap to download older messages after you get to the bottom of the list of your most recent 50 emails.

The update to Gmail for iOS came a day after the company upgraded the Android version of the app, largely to improve photo-handling issues on that platform.

Gmail for iOS is free and compatible with any device running iOS 5.0 or later. The app is optimized for the iPhone 5.


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