If you ever set up a Gmail account over IMAP in a third-part client like Mailbox, you’re painfully aware that the experience is nowhere near Gmail’s web app on desktop.
It’s not Google’s fault – Gmail’s support for IMAP is rather smooth. To put it bluntly, IMAP just wasn’t designed with all of Gmail’s advanced features in mind.
For starters, typical operations over IMAP are noticeably slower compared to Gmail. Worse, IMAP does not support full searching of Gmail accounts and important features specific to Gmail – such as starring or archiving – frequently behave erratically over IMAP.
Realizing it doesn’t want developers to be bogged down by IMAP’s limitations, Google today at its I/O conference released the first beta of the official Gmail API.
It’s a pretty big deal and here’s why…