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PreCentral: The webOS Wish List: Gmail labels support


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The webOS Wish List: Gmail labels support

There are two things that really make Gmail Gmail:

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and labels. For the uninitiated, Gmail's labels are the result of a rethink of folders, instead of filing a message away in one folder, you can attach multiple labels (tags) to an email and have it appear under each of those labels, while still hanging out in your inbox or archive or even the trash. While some might loath threaded emails, it's hard to hate on labels.

Except that nobody seems to have been able to pull off a good implementation of Gmail labels in any mobile email client. Amusingly, Google even has separate apps for Android for regular email and Gmail, as if they couldn't figure out how to make emails that support folders and emails that support labels happily coexist. Nobody else seemed to have taken the plunge into full and proper Gmail support, to the point where we just started to assume that Google was holding back the secret sauce for themselves.

It turns out we were wrong. Google's sauce isn't so secret and there is in fact a Gmail Labels API. It was just recently implemented on a new iPhone email client called Sparrow (which while looking like a very nice suffers from the fundamental flaw of not being able to run in the background - Apple's Palm OS-style multitasking bites again!). With webOS going all open source, why not stop treating Gmail like it's just some other mail service and give it the special treatment it deserves.

For those that use Gmail as more than just another mail provider, labels are fundamental. The IMAP implementation of Gmail tries to mimic labels as folders, and it's just not good. It works, but it's not good. With an available API, splicing labels support into the webOS email app is actually a possibility. Of course, how that's displayed is another question - we'd argue for just adding a labels button to the row at the bottom of the message view and maybe putting small colored label tags in the list view. But that's it - the rest of the "treat it like folders" implementation would still work just fine.

Yeah, we're Gmail junkies here. We've gotta have our labels, man! Have your own thoughts on this entry? Of course you do - the comments await. Without a doubt you have your own ideas as to what ought be on the webOS wish list, and so - and an awesome discussion it has proven to be.

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