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Gmail iOS app gets better navigation, message handling on iPads

Google has updated its Gmail iOS app with improvements aimed at simplifying user-interface navigation and enhancing message viewing and composition on iPads.

"Tablets are great because the large screen not only gives you a more immersive experience but also extra room for serious multitasking," wrote Carmen Wilkinson, a Google software engineer, in a blog post Thursday.

Now, when holding the iPad in landscape mode, the Gmail app displays a new vertical navigation bar in the left side of the screen.

The column-type navigation bar is a permanent part of the interface when the app is used in landscape mode. It has icons for several app features, including the different inbox categories in Gmail -- such as Primary, Social and Promotions -- along with a message counter for each.

With the previous version of the app, users need to tap on a menu icon in the upper left-hand corner of the interface to trigger the appearance of controls in the left side column that include the inbox categories and other filters for sorting messages.

Also new with the upgraded app is the ability to display individual messages in full-screen view when the iPad is held in portrait mode. The goal is to make the message-composing and viewing process more comfortable and convenient for iPad users.

Google also added some iOS 7 tweaks that will be reflected both on iPads and iPhones.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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