Now the “email updates” widget has finally arrived, and is available for the iOS Gmail app right now. A picture-in-picture widget for the Google Meet app has also been added, enabling users to have a Meet call in view while using other apps on their iPhone or iPad.
But the Gmail widget is the one we'll focus on. The widget itself is very straightforward in that it displays a trio of the latest emails in your Gmail inbox, with the sender and subject line, and those are joined by a write button to enable you to quickly fire off an email.
This cuts down on the process of actually opening the Gmail app then navigating through emails and tools. It's not that the Gmail app in iOS is tricky to use, as Google has created a neat email tool. But sometimes going into an app to respond to an email can serve up a lot of other distractions; many of us have lost time simply scrolling through a full inbox.
So this new email update app could help users be more efficient with their Gmailing. This could be particularly handy for people on the move a lot, whereby having a tool that lets you see your latest email and their senders and subject lines at a glance could be handy at keeping you informed but not distracted.
"If you use Google apps to get work done on your iPhone or iPad, we’re making some improvements to help you stay organized and productive," explained Luke Wroblewski, director of iOS at Google.
We tried out the new widget for ourselves on an iPhone 13 Pro and can confirm it’s a lot better than the old widget.
The previous one simply presented a search bar, a compose button and a small tab noting the number of unread emails; it wasn’t particularly handy. This new widget makes it easier to parse information at a glance, and that's good in our book.
The iOS Gmail widget does lack the flexibility of the Gmail widget on Android. But then again, Apple arguably has a bit of catching up to do when it comes to widgets.
Apple doesn't currently let app developers build any functionality into iOS widgets. So removing that restraint may be the first move the folks at Cupertino could do to make iOS widgets better.
Nevertheless, this new Gmail widget shows how more can be done on the design side of iOS widgets to boost their usefulness.