Because my work email account is Exchange, I can’t use the activesync-style connection to Google Mail from my iPhone (you’re only allowed one activesync account). The only alternative is IMAP, which is OK but (arguably) uses more battery and is slower to notify when new mail arrives. I also use Gmail labels a lot, so I miss not having them when using the iPhone Mail app. A combination of notifications with using the Gmail web app (for labels) would be ideal in the absence of a proper Google Mail app. So I’ve experimented with Google Mail push apps. These apps display push notifications when your Google Mail account receives a new message. Often they also embed the Gmail web app. Here’s what I thought of the three I tried over the past few months:

G-Push Mail by Jon D: The first one I tried. Notifications were at best intermittent and the app was quite slow. OTOH the developer responded quickly to requests for technical support.

GPush by Tivieras Apps: The second attempt. Notifications were more reliable. One thing really bugged me though: every time I opened the app to view an email, I had to sign in to Gmail. What a pain. I asked the developer for help but got no response. Eventually I got so hacked off that I decided to try another app.

PushGmail by Gary Fung: This is the app I currently use. [No longer, as of 2010-03-26, see below.] Notifications are very good, usually instantaneous. [Stopped working for me mid-March 2010.]  The embedded Gmail web app works well, faster than either of the other two apps and only makes me login very occasionally.

*NEW* 2010-03-26 Push for Gmail by iLegendSoft: I went looking for a new app after PushGmail (see above) stopped working. I was delighted to discover this new app which is in every respect the best I’ve seen yet. Push notifications work perfectly and can have custom content. You can view the Gmail web app inside Push for Gmail and it works very well: it loads quickly and displays good navigation options at the bottom (back/forwards, home, compose, options, etc. And you can hide the navigation stuff if you want. It even has landscape mode. So Push for Gmail is the new winner for me.