I have complained about the built-in Android email app many times before. There is just one word for it – crappy. And only one entity is to be held responsible for it – Google. The “do no evil” corporation keeps refusing to live up to the hype. My verdict is that Google is deliberately making any email experience outside of Gmail less than satisfactory on Android.

How else do you explain the fact that Google ships a separate Gmail app apart from the built-in generic app, and ensures that the generic email app is unusable for the most part? In the past, I have complained about the hardships of setting up some email accounts on Android. But, beyond that, should you successfully do so, you will find that the generic email app is so dim that it is almost unreadable even in the best of lighting.

Over the weekend, I thought to set up an alternative email service on the review device that I have with me at the moment. I have been stewing since. Take a look at the following screenshots from the Samsung Galaxy Note II. The upper one is of the built-in Gmail app. The second, and lower, one is of the built-in generic email app.

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The screenshot does not do justice to it. In reality, it is much dimmer than what you see below.
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How on earth is anyone supposed to be able to use the generic email app when it looks like the Power Holding Corporation of Nigeria (PHCN) is permanently on strike there? I have very good eye-sight, yet can barely read anything in that app. Having a black background is no issue to me, but the preview text isn’t white but grey, making it difficult to read in a number of scenarios, including under daylight.

Update (19th Dec. 2012): I have been corrected that the generic email app interface with the dark background seen in the screenshot above is a skinned version by Samsung. I apologise for the mix up. So, this particular issue is from Sammy and not Google. My other gripes against the generic email app stands though, and Google still needs to fix them.

Don’t tell me that I am cooking up a conspiracy here. That useless email app goes through development and testing by Google and has survived various iterations of Android OS – and it is just as terrible as it was in 2008. Google knows what it is doing. Google wants you using nothing else but Gmail and is being very under-handed about making sure that you do. Google is as evil as it gets.

Until someone provides a better explanation as to why there is such a huge difference in usability between the Gmail app and the generic email app on Android, I shall stand my ground.


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