It’s official, well, sort of. Google is enabling IMAP for Gmail, which is wonderful if you like to use third-party email applications on more than one computer and/or mobile device.
Here’s the deal. According to the Download Squad and several other sources across the net, Gmail is enabling IMAP but not all at once. Some users currently get it and others don’t. You can check if IMAP is enabled for you by logging into Gmail, going to settings, and going to “Forwarding and POP/IMAP”. IMAP should be the last configurable setting on that menu. If you don’t see it, some users report that logging out and back into Gmail enables the IMAP settings, but it didn’t work for this writer.
OK, that’s great, but what is IMAP? I’m glad you asked. IMAP, according to the IMAP Connection, stands for Internet Message Access Protocol. Unlike POP, which downloads several messages onto your computer or mobile device and then uploads them later, IMAP works with your email server in real time.
The downside of working with an email program and service that uses POP is that, if you use several devices/computers, you can easily end up with several machines showing different conversations. An email program with IMAP works with your email server in real time, so that every computer/device has the most up to date messages and conversations.
Gmail Help is now featuring several IMAP related documents including one that details how to enable GMAIL with IMAP on your iPhone (or hacked iPod Touch with iPhone’s Mail.app).