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Looks like Google borked its first iPhone Gmail app

Hours after Google released the hotly anticipated Gmail for iPhone app, the e-mail giant pulled the app to fix an obvious bug.

Gmail apology tweet for broken iPhone app
Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Hours after launching the hotly anticipated Gmail for iPhone app (and for all iOS devices), Google pulled the broken app from the Apple App store and apologized on Twitter.

"The iOS app we launched today contained a bug with notifications," the tweet reads. "We have pulled the app to fix the problem. Sorry we messed up."

Google later followed up with an official statement:

Update: 11/2/11: Earlier today we launched a new Gmail app for iOS. Unfortunately, it contained a bug which broke notifications and caused users to see an error message when first opening the app. We've removed the app while we correct the problem, and we're working to bring you a new version soon. Everyone who's already installed the app can continue to use it.
Gmail for iPhone, broken notifications
This is what greeted me when I launched the Gmail app on my iPhone 4. Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

We witnessed the broken notifications first-hand on multiple iPhones when loading the Gmail app for the first time after a reboot (see right).

iPhone users also complained vociferously on social networks like Twitter and Google+ (here's one example of dozens).

Gmail did not appear in the Notifications submenu that's new to iOS 5, nor is there a notifications entry when you access the Gmail app from the global iPhone settings menu.

An error of this magnitude is unusual for iOS apps, since Apple is renowned for its iron grip over the quality of products released to its App Store.

This is not the first time that Google has released a product before it appears to have been thoroughly checked in-house. Google Buzz, Google's first attempt at a social network, is a famous example of the company's mismanagement over a product release. Instead of breaking, however, that opt-out product was seen as an invasion of privacy.

The flub is also surprising because Google has plenty of experience launching successful iPhone apps, with its Google+ app just the latest example.

In addition to the notifications error, which signifies a coding mistake for the 'aps-environment' string, users are also disappointed that the Gmail app doesn't support multiple user accounts and archiving with gestures, and that the app isn't as graphically rich or as diverse from the Gmail Web app, among other grievances.

CNET will bring you a hands-on video of Gmail for iPhone shortly, as well as a review later on, so stay tuned.

Article updated at 11:28am PT with more details.