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Hands on: Evomail offers a small twist on Gmail for iPad

Evomail, a $3 Gmail client for the iPad, launched Thursday morning in the App Store.

While the creators--who also developed the once-much-loved Boxcar notification service--promise that Evomail will be beautiful and innovative, at launch it looks and feels a lot like Gmail's own free app for iOS: Both apps let you access multiple Gmail accounts, both let users search their entire mail archives, both let users see threaded conversations and profile pictures, and both let you send attachments more easily than Apple's native Mail app.

There are some differences, however, between Evomail and Gmail for iOS.

The biggest of those is the use of gestures in Evomail. In Gmail, users tap onscreen buttons in order to perform actions. However, in Evomail, a swipe to the right, for example, lets you automatically reply to the email on your page. (And you can set the app to "send and archive," disappearing an inbox item as soon as you've replied and moving you closer to Inbox Zero.)

Another option unique to Evomail: Integration with social networks. Emails can be shared via SMS, Twitter, and Facebook--though, of course, you'll probably want to be careful about sharing private communications with your Facebook friends.

Evomail also features one striking visual departure from Gmail: While the latter app lets users see, access, and file emails to a variety of sub-mailboxes created by the user, Evomail color-codes those different directories in its lefthand pane, making it easier for a user to find the right one.

Evomail also tries to streamline the Gmail experience a bit. There is no "mark unread" button in Evomail--you simply tap on the email's timestamp. (You'll want to read the instructions; many such options aren't always obvious.) Some of those omissions might bother users who depend on them: For example, there is also no clear way to change your email signature in Evomail, nor to mark an inbox item as "spam." Both of those options are available in Gmail.

The app developers have said that support for other email services will be available soon, as will compatibility with phones "and other devices." For now, Evomail is an iPad-only offering.

Evomail for iPad is compatible with iPads running iOS 6.0 or later.


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