Gmail is the best of its time. The thing is: its time was 2009
David Braue: Gmail was born to outshine Yahoo! Mail and Microsoft Hotmail. Superlative spam catching, innovations like Gmail Labs and the high-value (and free) Google Apps bundle embodied Google’s debonair anti-establishmentarianism – and made us forget its sole purpose in life was to help Google sell more ads.
Companies standardizing on Gmail – many of which were SMEs without the budget for Microsoft Exchange – found themselves hand-holding employees on an unfamiliar and unintuitive interface built around message tags, archiving and conversation view.
Developers have struggled to keep up with changes to Gmail’s poorly-defined and regularly-changing APIs, while Google’s IMAP and POP3 never worked perfectly. Google restricted Exchange ActiveSync access; iOS Mail still can’t deal with Gmail’s ability to archive messages or delete them; and Apple’s Mavericks version of Mail couldn’t speak properly to Gmail at all.
In its four years of life, Gmail has changed from embodying anti-Microsoft panache to being a gateway drug for Google’s online services. Google sucks you in with Gmail, then keeps you with subtle technical incompatibilities and ever-more-creative ways of harvesting your private communications to sell ads.
Meanwhile, its interface is as stale and frustrating as ever. Gmail may have been impressive nine years ago, but these days it’s being outdone by friendlier and more compatible alternatives like Outlook.com that merit consideration like never before.
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It's got everything you need -- and it's simple to use
Ken Hess: As much as technology analysts and bloggers like to beat up on Google, there's no reason to abandon Gmail. Gmail isn't perfect but it is close to being so. I've used it since it was in early beta and I'd be hard-pressed to find something that even comes close. Sure, I used to miss folders but now I find that I don't need them cluttering up my navigation window.
And who really remembers where you put an email two or three years ago? You still have to search for it. Google knows search and searching your email is very easy to do. GMail is available on any platform via apps or browser, so there's no need to use a heavy client.
Gmail, for personal use, is also free. It provides plenty of space that grows every day. It's secure and supports IMAP and POP3 incoming mail protocols. It has an excellent SPAM filter. In fact, I only have to see an errant email about once a month that the filter doesn't catch. And it has some advanced features not found in any other mail application that I've used, such as the attachment sensor (That's what I call it).
The attachment sensor knows that you've referenced an attachment in your message but didn't attach it. It catches that and pops up a message asking you to confirm that you have no attachments. How many times have you sent an email without the attachment that you meant to send? You won't with Gmail.
With Gmail, you can do all the expected things with your online email account but one of the great advantages of Gmail is that it's integrated with Google's other applications such as Google Groups, Google Docs, YouTube, Google+, Gtalk, and more. You don't have to do anything special for that integration; it's just there.
You can highlight your important emails with various colors of stars or other icons so that you don't forget an important message. And now, GMail categorizes your incoming email, by default, as Notifications, Promotions, or regular Inbox.
In essence, Gmail is the mail application that goes where you do without hassle. It's simple to use and I don't see any reason to disconnect from it in favor of something else. At least, not until something much better comes along, and in almost ten years, I'm still waiting for that to happen.