In a long-overdue universal inbox move, you can use the Gmail app for Android as a single hub for nearly all your webmail accounts. You could do this already by adding accounts to the Gmail app, but now you can view all your disparate inboxes in one steady stream.
The app’s new “All Inboxes” option collects all your messages in one place, and you can still see each inbox separately by tapping the bubble icons or using a drop-down menu in the sidebar. To add accounts, you hop into the updated app’s Settings options, select “Add account,” and choose from a simple menu that lets you pick between a Google Apps/Gmail account and an IMAP/POP webmail account. From there, just plug in your Yahoo, AOL, Outlook.com, Hotmail, or MSN.com account—whatever olden-times webmail services people used before Gmail.
This is not exactly a revolutionary development. After all, stock email apps on everything from the iPhone to the BlackBerry let you filter in all your email accounts in one place—with integrated support for Exchange-based work email, to boot. But the new Gmail app’s secret sauce is that it brings elements of the Gmail interface to these external accounts.
For example, conversation view can be applied to those external emails, just as if they were native Gmail messages. And, of course, you can star them and add them to folders, albeit only the folders tied to that external account. You can’t, say, move an incoming Yahoo email to one of your Gmail folders.
That’s one of a few missing options that would be helpful, including as being able to toggle between email addresses when you’re replying to a message. There’s still no integrated Exchange support, but you can download a separate APK to add that feature to the mix. That’s an extra step if you want to feed in work emails coming from Exchange servers. But these days, with more and more businesses using Google Apps for Business and Gmail for Work, it may not matter for your needs.
According to Google, there are a few more enhancements in the new Gmail for Android app—it’s not available on iOS—including improved auto-complete performance and a new “Save to Google Drive” icon in the top right nav bar. The company says the update will be rolling out on Google Play over the next few days. If you just can’t wait, an APK is available now.