GmailEditor: Phil Nickinson
It's not email, it's Gmail — and it's just about the easiest way to do mail on Android
Google re-invented email in 2004 with Gmail. The world just didn't know it yet. Gmail was born as one of those semi-perpetual Google "beta" projects. And what's more is that it was invite-only at first. That's not to say it was tough to get into, it just wasn't generally available. That changed three years later when it opened up to the public. But it would be another two years before Gmail managed to shed its "beta" status, which by then had become a running joke for most folks.
What made Gmail different? For one, it was web-based in an age of mail apps. No need for Outlook. No Thunderbird or similar app. Just open up your browser from anywhere in the world and see your inbox with your mail and your contacts. No having to sync anything. No having to send yourself something at home. No more losing information. It just worked. And what's more is that it helped birth Ajax for web developers, giving end users a fast, seamless experience.
Gmail changed the way we think about mail as well, leading us to the way of threaded conversations instead of just a back-and-forth. That took a little getting used to, but it worked.
And for those who used Gmail in the early days, it came with a ridiculous amount of storage — 1 gigabyte per person. If you were to start from scratch today, in 2014, you'd have 15 gigabytes, shared between Gmail and Google Drive and your Google+ photos.
On Android, Gmail offers a quick, seamless push experience. It's not unusual to have email arrive on your phone before you see it on a computer. Just log into your Google account from your phone, and all of your email and contacts are there, just as you left them. It is, simply, just about the easiest way to manage email and contacts on any platform.