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Google's API: Not the death of email, after all?

Google's new API offering, designed to replace the now 28-year-old IMAP, is not going to be the end of email as we know it; rather, it will extend its life and bring it into the 21st century.

Google is one of the most successful companies of the last few decades, and much of this is down to the company’s policy of innovation. The research and development branch of the company must be a positive cave of modern wonders with all manner of futuristic gizmos and prototypes undergoing testing and improvement. However, their latest offering is not as exciting as Google glass or as sci-fi fabulous as smart contact lenses; nevertheless, it looks set to gently revolutionise the way we email.

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Email has run on IMAP ever since its inception in 1986 and as the system worked well enough. No one really thought about changing it, even though email users were becoming disgruntled with the way email works. Eventually, the technology wave that brought endless mobile devices loaded with app after app started raising questions like, "Why can’t my email work like this app?" and "Why do I even need an email address only for work?"

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Google considered the problem and has come up with API. The biggest advantage of API is its speed: It can communicate with Gmail accounts some three to ten times faster than IMAP. Google urges caution, however, saying that API is not designed to replace IMAP, but to work with it. Their reasons for caution are two-fold: Firstly, API cannot yet push notifications and secondly, there is a limit on the number of API requests that can be made per day. Google says that the best way to use API is to have it interact with your email account in a small way, boosting and enhancing your overall email experience.