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Google frees Gmail updates from Android

(A little) less fragmentation

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Google has freed Gmail updates from its Android mobile operating system, releasing a new version of its email app to the Android Marketplace. Previously, Gmail updates were only released with new versions of the OS.

"Gmail updates aren’t tied to Android version releases anymore. Now you can get new Gmail stuff faster without having to wait for system updates," the company said in a blog post.

Uber Googler Matt Cutts reckons "this helps with fragmentation." But the new Gmail app only runs on Android 2.2, which is, well, the latest version of the OS. So you can't exactly say that fragmentation is dead.

But at least Google is now offering updates separately, and we have access to Gmail 2.3 before the release of Android 2.3.

With the new Android Gmail, "your most important message actions" will now "stick to the top of the screen" as you scroll through threads in your inbox. And, Google says, you can more easily view previous messages when scrolling through a long thread. There's a "Show quoted text" link that reveals previous messages, just like the desktop version of Gmail.

Plus, the new apps offer a "limited" version of Priority Inbox," the new Google tool that attempts to sort your most important messages. Once you've flipped on Priority Inbox on the desktop version of Gmail, an 'Important' label will show up on certain messages viewed on your phone. And you can add an 'important' shortcut on your phone's home screen.

At the moment, Google says, there is a bug with the sticky message actions feature on HTC phones running Anrdoid 2.2, such as the EVO 4G and the Droid Incredible. But the company is working to address this. ®

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