As the iPhone evolves, so does Gmail
But none of the recently announced innovations are making my eyes light up like a kid first gazing on his Easter basket.
First, from the Gmail Blog: Nested Labels and Message Preview. The Nested Labels thing actually did have me excited as though it were a chocolate egg or perhaps a Peep. But then I read this:
Please note that this lab doesn’t play nicely with the “Hide Read Labels” lab. You might not get exactly what you expect if you have both labs enabled; for example, the collapse/expand icons won’t always appear when they should.
and all the twinkle in my eyes was snuffed out. I tried it out and found it to be true. It didn’t work.
Honestly, the “Hide Read Labels” lab experiment is more important to me than sub-labels ever could be. Since I make extensive use of the keyboard shortcuts, I can navigate to any label I want with a simple “g + l” or “/” and the name of the label. I use the “Hide Read Labels” so that I only see labels with unread messages, which gives me a visual indicator of what has been filtered out of my Inbox and placed under another label for later viewing. Thus instead of viewing 44 labels, I can collapse my chatterbox (which I don’t use anyway since I have Trillian) and see my Calendar Gadget. Viewing Unread Messages and Upcoming Events is easily of more value than being able to have labels under other labels. Of course, the whole labeling system was designed so that you don’t really need nested labels at all. I know there are people who have not given up the folder hierarchy mindset, but it’s too bad that they’ll have to give up their hidden read labels in order to get it.
Another thing it’s too bad people have to give up in exchange for something else: Flash. We all know Steve Jobs hates Flash, and since Apple can do whatever they want, they’re free to disallow the use of Flash on the iPhone and iPad until a court of law says otherwise. It just seems kind of mean and pointless. I mean, even if Flash goes the way of Cobol, Adobe isn’t going to die. They have a suite of graphic design and image editing tools that is basically unparalleled. Photoshop : Graphic Design :: iPhone : Smartphones.
It really just seems like another iPhone “because we can” move. Much like the we don’t want a porn store excuse for not allowing unsigned apps on the iPhone. At least with that one they have a reason, but really it’s just another “because we can” move. It’s not about porn on the iPhone, it’s about apps which provide no revenue for Apple.
It’s certainly not a dumb move by Apple, and in this case (as opposed to the Flash case), they at least have a legitimate excuse to hide behind. I’m sure Google is betting that once they hit a tipping point in terms of number of apps, normal people (i.e., the non-geeks) will get outside of the default “must buy iPhone” mentality and at least consider that there are other possibilities.
The other iPhone point I wanted to make was more related to the point I was making about addition of new Gmail features and concerns iPhone OS 4. Honestly, Multitasking isn’t something I think I actually need. It seems great in theory, but I’m not sure what I would actually use it for. Since I can already listen to the iPod through the native app and then go do other things, I’m not sure what else I would want running in the background that doesn’t already provide push notifications (e.g., email, phone, etc). I would consider streaming internet music if there were a Lala app available, but since Apple bought Lala, I think that multitasking use case has all but died.
The folders thing will be nice, but again, not something I’m jumping up and down about. I have a pretty stable set of apps on my phone now, and while grouping them will probably make life a little easier, I’ve gotten pretty used to things as they are so I’m not singing out for joy at the thought of being able to reconfigure them a little bit more now… It’s a nice feature, but it’s also something that I would have already had if I’d gotten an Android phone. And if the Motorola Droid or the Nexus One had been around at this time last year, I probably would have.