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Gmail on iOS just got a lot faster

Google addresses a longstanding complaint about the Gmail app on iOS.

Google has updated the iOS Gmail app to address a pressing concern: the need for speed.

In a blog post Wednesday announcing the update, Gmail software engineer Melissa Dominguez said that the Gmail app now supports "pre-fetching" so that messages are synced before you open the app. To take advantage of the feature, you must be using iOS 7 and make sure that you have background app refresh activated.

Equally important for usability, the Gmail app now allows you to use single sign-on for Google apps on iOS. This means if you sign into Gmail, you'll also be signed into YouTube, Google Maps, Chrome, and Google Drive.

The two changes will help Google compete on Apple's home turf. The default Mail app on iOS won't let you access Gmail folders, Gmail labels, or save e-mail drafts. Meanwhile, Google is the only company that has been able to circumvent Apple's stranglehold on default iOS apps by linking its apps together. You can set Web links in Gmail to open in Chrome, map links from Chrome to open in Google Maps, e-mail documents from Drive via Gmail, and YouTube links to open in the YouTube app.

However, if you like managing multiple e-mail accounts from a single app without having to set e-mails to forward, the Gmail app still won't be for you.