A while ago — about the same time this blog became my domain home page — I signed up for Google Apps so I could manage my domain email right in Gmail, rather than just forwarding it to a whole separate address to take advantage of Gmail’s features and capabilities.
I’m saving some $75 a year on this deal, but the mail part has proven to be a major headache because if your Gmail address doesn’t end in gmail.com, the Gmail mobile app will only manage it if you set it up as an IMAP account — the kind where messages get moved into folders rather than labeled. When folders are used, a message can only be in one at a time; to use more than one folder you have to make multiple copies of the same message.
Gmail’s labels are a much more flexible system. Instead of a file-folder analog like IMAP, search giant Google’s Gmail operates, naturally enough, on a database principle. You could create 100 labels, put them all on just one message, and find it under all of the labels — while still having only one copy of the message on the server. Other mail systems should adopt it.
But I can only take full advantage of Gmail’s features through Gmail’s webmail interface.
You’d think Google would design its mail app to treat a Google Apps mail account like any other Gmail account. The webmail interface does it without any trouble, so why can’t the app?
From what I’ve read, Google Apps users with non-Gmail, domain addresses used to have to use Microsoft’s Outlook mobile app to manage their email. How stupid is that? It’s undoubtedly a big part of why Gmail finally turned their app into an IMAP-capable mail client, but it’s hard to understand why they couldn’t simply have the apps recognize Google Apps mail accounts as Gmail addresses? It’s far more sensible.
Anyway, the last two versions of Gmail’s Android app have been failing epically even for users with ordinary Gmail addresses. So I’ve disabled the Gmail apps on my phone and tablet, and placed web shortcuts on my homescreen. I’ll use my mobile browser to manage my email when I’m not at my Windows PC.
Updated, Monday: I just discovered that Microsoft’s Outlook mail app can set up my domained Google Apps account as Gmail. Google’s own Gmail app can’t.
The ridiculousness is even more absolute than I thought.
Reupdated, October 14: Turns out Google “Inbox,” which Google claims isn’t an attempt to replace Gmail, does sync my email as a Gmail address rather than IMAP — but the multiple labeling capability isn’t available in Inbox — which makes it no better than an IMAP app. They released an updated Gmail app in the last few days but it still doesn’t accord full Gmail functionality to non-Gmail-domained Google Apps email addresses and it reintroduces an earlier bug of creating spurious IMAP labels for standard mail folders like Sent.
There must be a serious fundamental code failure in the app if they can’t find and fix these flaws.
Anyway, I’m using Gmail’s web interface on all devices — the non-mobile version which, on my phone, is extremely small, but at least displays messages correctly unlike the mobile version. One of my complaints about the newer phone is it won’t display the desktop version of Gmail no matter what.