Apple Mail vs Gmail: which email app is better on the iPhone

Whether you’re a student, an entrepreneur, or an end user, you need an email app that can get you through a busy day. These days, email applications aren’t limited to conversations and newsletters. Now your email inbox is a centralized place for all your receipts, important documents, travel details, gift vouchers, bank information and more. Over the years, Apple Mail, Gmail, and Outlook have improved on many fronts with better organization, more editing options, and so on.

Generally, Apple Mail is the default option for many iOS / iPad OS users. Every year, Apple adds incremental updates to the default email app with the main release of iOS.

Google has been aggressive with Gmail updates and improvements on iOS. So does it make sense for people to have two email apps on their iPhones or iPads? Will the Gmail app serve better than the Appel Mail app?

In this post, we’ll compare standard Apple Mail with Gmail. The comparison makes more sense now than starting with iOS 14, and Apple is finally allowing users to change the default Mail and Browser app on the iPhone. The comparison will be based on user interface, features, composting options, cross-platform availability and much more. Let’s start.

Note: For this post, our iPhone X runs the latest Gmail v6.0.2 app from the App Store and Apple Email app from the iOS 14 Developer beta update.

Cross platform availability

As expected, the Apple Mail app is only available on Apple devices. You can access the app on iOS, macOS and iPad OS. Gmail does not offer native apps on desktop platforms. You can use the Gmail app on Android, iOS, iPad OS and the web.

User interface

Apple hasn’t moved much from the UI to the default email app on the iPhone. The home screen displays the accounts you’ve added from the iPhone Settings menu.

You can open all inboxes or go with individual accounts. Apple kept the Inbox user interface simple and functional. The compose button is at the bottom and the search bar is at the top. Apple Mail supports iOS 13’s dark theme, which looks great on AMOLED devices.

If you have a Gmail app on Android, you’ll find yourself at home with the iOS variant. Unfortunately, the app still uses a hamburger menu to browse email folders on iOS. The composition menu is in the lower right corner.

I like the Gmail quick account switch. You can view your checking account profile from the top right corner of the search bar. Just use the swipe-up/down gestures and switch between added accounts in the Gmail app.

Gmail supports iOS 13’s dark theme, but it’s more of a dark gray type and doesn’t look as good as the Apple Mail implementation.

Organization Email

Email organization is very crucial, as everyone’s inbox is usually filled with emails from different services, subscriptions, etc. Today, all the prominent mail apps are rushing to provide better organizational email functions to classify important emails from promotional or newsletters.

Let’s start with Gmail. Taking inspiration from its web version, Google added several tabs like Social, Promotions, Updates, Forums and a main Tray entry for general conversations. Google’s algorithms are smart enough to organize incoming emails based on their category and relevance. When that fails, you’ll need to manually organize that odd email into any of these folders. Users can quickly star in an email to hide it in a separate tab for important emails.

Apple Mail does not offer such organizational capabilities. However, you can set up certain contacts and email addresses as VIP, and the app will create a separate email folder for it.

Compose email options

Apple has added a detailed toolbar for editing emails. By clicking on the compose email, you can click on the small arrow at the top of the keyboard and view the added options.

The Format toolbar allows you to change default fonts, size, color, add bullet points, numbers, change layout and much more. The up arrow button at the top may confuse some people.

Google has finally added a Smart Compose feature to Gmail’s mobile apps. The search giant offers writing suggestions as you digest. Swipe the right to accept or continue typing to ignore suggestions. Unlike Apple Mail, Gmail doesn’t offer those rich editing options, but has integrated the ‘Schedule Send’ feature to schedule emails.

Resources Galore

Let’s start with Gmail first. Gmail allows you to create an email signature and allows you to configure the Auto Out of Office reply. Google also offers a smart answer feature, which shows suggested answers. It can be useful in certain situations.

Gmail added support for Siri Shortcuts. You can configure Siri to send email. I particularly liked the Google tasks to be added. From any email, you can click the three dot icon at the top and select Add to Tasks.

My biggest issue with Apple Mail is that all the Settings options are in the iPhone Settings app (this is how all standard Apple apps work). Apple Mail provides a rich preview when using long-standing email from the notification center.

Apple also offers better swipe gestures in an email compared to Gmail. For example, in Gmail, the left turn gesture in an email only allows you to take one action. In Apple Mail, you can swipe and tag an email, archive it, or use the plus option to reply, trash, and more. I would like to see Apple Notes and Reminders integration in Apple Mail.

My favorite feature of Apple Mail is a 3D touchscreen implementation in the app. You can long press on any email and quickly browse it while using various options like Reply, Reply All, Forward, Mute, Archive and more.

Unfortunately, none of the email apps offer in-app calendar integration.

Optimize your email experience

Both Apple mail and Gmail are exit-capable email applications. We can recommend Gmail if you are already living in the Google ecosystem and want to use add-ons like Google Tasks, Smart Compose, Smart Responder and so on. Apple Mail excels in the format options and intelligent use of the 3D touch within the app. Despite this, he carries a fair share of the hiccups.

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