Damn you, Indecision!

New Gmail Mobile App Works on T-Mobile MDA

When I first heard about the new Gmail Mobile app for mobile phones, I kind of ignored the news because a) I could just surf to the Gmail page with my MDA and get the mobile HTML version already, and b) I thought that since the app was a Java app meant for “dumb” phones, it wouldn’t work with Windows Mobile 5. Well, I saw a few more articles about it and read a couple mentions that it would indeed work on the T-Mobile MDA, using the provided “Midlet Manager”, whatever that was.

So I went to the page with my MDA to download the app, and nothing happened. I couldn’t find any programs on my phone that would open the file that downloaded to my device. What was up? After a bit of searching, I found out that I’d need to download some kind of Java VM to run this Gmail app. What about the review that said it would work with software already on the MDA?? More searching gave me the answer: with the latest ROM update that T-Mobile provided (2.26, IIRC), they dropped the Midlet Manager. Luckily, I found a thread on the XDA Developers’ Forum that provided a download link for the Midlet Manager. However, it seems that for some people checking the thread, the FTP link didn’t work, so someone else provided a link here. I just downloaded from the mirror link to save myself some hassle, but it’s possible the FTP link on the forum was fixed. All you have to do is save the CAB file anywhere and install it. It will automatically install to your device memory, not the storage card. It can be uninstalled (supposedly) if you don’t want it anymore.

Midlet Manager splash screen:

splash.png

Anyway, after I finally got the Midlet Manager working, and installed the Gmail Mobile client, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it looked and how well it translated to a mobile device.

Gmail Mobile inbox:

inbox.png

Instead of providing a next button at the bottom of the page to load the next set of messages, you just press down on the d-pad once you’ve scrolled to the bottom of the page, and the app will load the next few messages in your inbox. This reminded me of how Google Reader works when you are browsing a feed. Once you’ve scrolled all the way to the end of the current 20 items in the list, Reader loads up the next 20 items accessible in the feed. Pretty nice, clean way of handling it.

The app doesn’t fill the screen when rotated to landscape…oh well.

landscape.png

The app is relatively snappy, from what I remember. I don’t have my device overclocked or anything. I was expecting it to be sluggish, given it is a Java app, and that it wasn’t really meant to run on a Windows Mobile device, but it ran surprisingly well. YMMV.

Compared to the very bare-bones HTML version of Gmail for mobile browsers, this Gmail app has a lot of features that the regular desktop-browser version has:

menu1.png

menu2.png

menu3.png

It even shows message threads (actual e-mail content cloned out in the screen cap 🙂 ).

mailthread1.png

When you click on the number of messages in the thread, just like on the desktop Gmail page, the previous messages that were hidden show up:

mailthread2.png

And you can click on each one individually to expand or hide the message text:

mailthread3.png

Understandably, the mobile app doesn’t support pictures or HTML message formatting, so it’s barebones in that respect. But the threading and inbox navigation works so well as it is, that I don’t mind that the pictures don’t load. I think that would really bog things down anyway. If I need to, I can just surf up the HTML Gmail. Supposedly this mobile app handles attachments well, but I haven’t had a chance to test it.

I haven’t tried composing an e-mail or searching my messages (which I heard worked well), but I’ll try to post a follow up after I’ve been able to use the Gmail app more. So far I am impressed at the mobile translation of Gmail. Now if only they’d do something similar for Google Reader (my current favorite RSS reader)! 🙂 Kudos to Google for this nice app.

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14 responses

  1. Pingback: jkOnTheRun

  2. Jezlyn, how do you make those screenshots?

    November 7, 2006 at 11:37 pm

  3. Pingback: » Running Gmail J2ME On A T-Mobile MDA » InsideGoogle » part of the Blog News Channel

  4. I too would like to know the answer to the question Nathan asked, how did you take those screenshots? Very nice!

    November 8, 2006 at 7:08 am

  5. Hi, Guys. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I used iLauncher’s (by SBSH) built-in capability for creating screen shots. You can set various parameters, like number of shots in a row, delay between shots, delay before first shot, etc. It’s pretty nice! It captures the screen shots in .bmp format. I used a photo editing application to convert the BMPs into PNGs.

    I’m pretty sure there are standalone screen capture applications for Windows Mobile, however. Probably a quick Google search or search on a site like Pocketgear.com would yield some good results.

    November 8, 2006 at 4:43 pm

  6. Arnie Nelson

    I have successfully installed the MIDlet manager on my MDA. Everything looks great, but when I try to sign in, I get an error message that my username and password do not match (they do when I sign in on my PC). Any help would be appreciated – hope it is very simple.

    November 28, 2006 at 9:27 pm

  7. Steve

    I get the same problem with username and password not matching – anyone any ideas?

    June 1, 2007 at 4:01 am

  8. bige

    I have problems getting in
    the gmail web side

    I keep on getting unknown
    error!

    ANY ONE HAS SUGGESTIONS
    FOR A COMPUTER IDIOT?

    PLEASE SIMPLIFY?

    August 4, 2007 at 9:59 pm

  9. Max Sir

    I installed the mobile manager, but when I try to run the gmail app, there is this error:

    invalid Java application descriptor

    November 30, 2007 at 12:52 am

  10. Ruby

    I installed everything fine but I get to the little screen that says “Install this MIDlet?”. I click yes and eveything installs correctly I suppose, and I go right back to the main screen on my Tmobile MDA. What am I doing wrong? Please email to rmsmith123@gmail.com instructions on how to actually run the program. I dont see a physical icon or anything.

    April 15, 2008 at 3:45 pm

  11. Victor

    Hello and thanks for your post. I followed the directions and the gmail app doesn’t work. I installed midlet manager v11.1.7.1036. It shows up. When I try to install the gmail app midlet opens up says connecting and then I see the windows mobile circle rotating and then nothing. no gmail programs in programs. no gmail in midlet. how did you get it to work right away after these two installs. I have the mda t-mobile windows mobile 5 os 5.1.195 build 14955.2.3.0. I don’t understand how you got yours to work. Thanks Victor.

    July 2, 2008 at 11:56 am

  12. Victor

    no need found this and finally installed: OK, I figured out that I needed to download the .jar file directly from http://www.gmail.com/app/v1.0.0/en/gmail-g.jar , not the link on http://www.gmail.com/app. But still, is there a way to allow it to use WiFi, even with the annoying pop-ups? I don’t have the 45 MB free to grab the IBM midlet manager…

    Comment by Randall | November 8, 2006

    however, when I see the username and password I cannot seem to type in anything. I will try with an older version of the manager .. unless you know, thanks, victor.

    July 2, 2008 at 12:51 pm

  13. Yinka

    Victor, to solve your issue, here is what I did, assuming you have a T-Mobile MDA
    You will see a blue ring around the area you want to type your username, hit enter key and it will allow you totype your username on a seemingly new screen and then click done. Do the same for password and then you can click sign in, click yes on the next screen and when you go back to the midlet, just click the gmail icon and voila you are in

    July 6, 2008 at 10:34 am

  14. billy

    have you ever tried using Yahoo User Interface/YUI on mobile
    http://williamduff.name/yui-on-mobile/

    February 4, 2010 at 11:02 am

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