Google app for iPhone and iPad adds push notifications

In the latest release of its Google Mobile app for the iPhone and iPad, Google has added the long-awaited ability to receive push notifications for Gmail and Google Calendar. You can download the update through Apple’s App Store.

To setup notifications, users enter their Google account credentials. After that, an alert comes through every time a new email is received or there is a pending Google Calendar event. Tapping “View” on an alert takes you to Google’s web app version of Gmail rather than Apple’s native Mail app, which might make the feature slightly less appealing to some iPhone users, although its core offering of notifications itself is probably plenty for most to give it a try.

While Yahoo Mail and Apple’s MobileMe users have long had push notifications on the iPhone, Gmail has lacked the feature despite potentially being the most popular email service on the device. Users have had to rely on third-party solutions like the Boxcar application, which enables push notifications for various services, or route their email tediously through Microsoft Exchange.

The fact that Google took its time to enable the feature, and that it wants you to check its own web app for new email when it could have just as easily made it available on the native app, says that not all is well between Apple and Google when it comes to working together on the iPhone. Google undoubtedly sees this as an opportunity to increase usage on its own mobile apps.

A handy feature that productivity aficionados will find useful is the ability to set a time interval for sound alerts. For example, you might only want to be pinged throughout the day and prefer your evenings to be slightly more peaceful.

Also worth mentioning are improvements in the update to the app’s search functionality: when looking for flight info, weather, stock quotes, or currency conversion, the app now no longer requires you to press ‘Search’ and instantaneously shows you the result.