Gmail for Mobile Gets a Refresh With High-Res Icons, Transitions and Pull to Refresh

Google just gave Gmail for mobile a nice little refresh with some small design changes and a few new features.

According to Google, the company aims to “produce web apps which look and feel just like installed apps.” This update to the mobile version of Gmail definitely pushes the service into this direction. While some people will always prefer the native built-in email clients on their mobile devices, having fully-features web apps allows Google to add new functionality to its mobile clients without have to wait for companies like Apple or Blackberry to update their own apps.

As for the design tweaks, the web-based version of Gmail for the iPhone 4 with the Retina display now features high-resolution icons.  Google also added some new transitions to the web app that make messages slide left or right when you select them and when you go back to the menu.

As for new features, Gmail for mobile now includes the pull down to refresh functionality on iOS devices and the Blackberry Playbook that we’ve already become accustomed to from other Google tools and quite a few other iOS native and mobile web apps.

Smooth Transitions? Not Quite

According to Google, the new transitions are based on “combination of up to eight different CSS3 transitions and Javascript to get things to look just right.” I have to admit that the effect isn’t as smooth as I would have expected it to be, though. When you click on a new message, for example, the app sometimes first shows the headline and only then invokes the transition to show it again. This makes for a rather jarring effect.