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Google Introduce the GMail API, To Replace IMAP and Bring a Modern API to Your Inbox

June 25, 2014 - Written By Tom Dawson

 

I know I’ve said this a number of times today, but that doesn’t make it any less true the more I say; this year’s I/O has been huge. It’s only day one and Google has announced so much already, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind really, with Android L featuring over 5,000 new APIs, Android TV reimagining the way we think of Android in the living room and Android Wear bringing all sorts of futuristic things to our wrists. APIs and improvements to Google services that diligently work away in the background has been a fairly big theme during this year’s announcements and one of Google’s biggest services is about to get a shot in the arm with a new API.

I’m surely not alone in this, but I love GMail. I know that loving Google isn’t cool these days, especially if you’re one of those that believe Google is one big, evil empire. GMail is how I get through the day, how I keep up with the rest of the staff here, who are all over the world and I get the same sort of experience no matter which device I am on. I never have to refresh or “fetch messages”, they’re just there for me and I really like the interface that Google has perfected over the years. Today, Google announced the GMail API, a pretty big change to GMail that will allow developers to do even more advanced things with GMail and open the gates to better ways of delivering you sophisticated experiences involving your inbox.

As some of you might already know, IMAP is pretty ancient by computing standards and while it’s arguably much better than POP, it’s not built for the sort of usage GMail offers today. This is where the GMail API comes in, and will offer developers much better access to GMail and is said to be around 3 times faster than our aging pal, IMAP. The API is in beta right now and if you already use APIs from Google, you’ll be access this one just like your others. Right from the get go, the GMail API supports threaded conversation (people that don’t use GMail and threaded conversations are the bane of my Inbox), labels, sophisticated search and more. Basically, this is the 21st century upgrade that background services such as GMail have needed for some time now. The video from Google (embedded below) does a neat job of explaining things.