It’s been just over a week since GMail added support for IMAP to all GMail accounts (including Google Apps for Domains). Since I use GMail for all of my e-mail needs (including multiple domains) I was very excited about the new enhancements. While POP support was nice for getting copies of e-mails on my iPhone, it was annoying to have to delete messages on both the phone and on my GMail account. Plus, using an additional client was out of the question since it would mess up mail reception on the phone.
With IMAP, mail is managed on the server. A standard folder structure is exposed that can be navigated and managed by the IMAP client. Most mail clients today support IMAP, including both the iPhone and the Mail client included with OSX.
After disabling POP and converting all of my GMail accounts to IMAP, I setup the accounts on my iPhone. After a brief synchronization, I had complete access to all the mail in my GMail account. Very sweet. After that, I added my GMail accounts to the Mail client on my MacBook Pro (previously I only had my .mac e-mail account configured). A brief synchronization and bang, all is good. I was able to see the same thing on either mail client.
Then it was time for some tests. I sent a few e-mails to my accounts and watched the windows. The Mac checks e-mail every 5 minutes and managed to pick up the mails more quickly. But patience paid off and I saw new e-mail on the iPhone as well. This is actually excellent — since I’m likely to see the e-mail on my Mac first, once I’ve read it, it’s marked as read on my GMail account and doesn’t trigger the new mail notification on my iPhone. Yet when I open up my iPhone mail accounts, all the mail is there and marked as read. Very nice.
I realize some may think “this is nothing new, IMAP has always done this.” Yeah, I know. I’ve run several hosting servers and dealt with mail many times on many platforms. But Google’s spam filtering is legendary and was the main reason I switched all of my domains to GMail and Google Apps for Domains. I was willing to give up IMAP to have less junk mail and it paid off in the end.
If you haven’t upgraded your GMail accounts to use IMAP yet, give it a shot. Everything seems to work and the way they’ve configured the servers works really well. In fact, you can even tweak your iPhone so that drafts are saved on the GMail->Drafts folder and your sent messages are kept in the GMail->Sent folder for a really seamless experience.