updated 12:10 pm EDT, Sun April 3, 2011
Zune HD has official mail app
Microsoft in a belated step has quietly brought out the first true e-mail app for the Zune HD. The official software gives the MP3 player checks for both Gmail and Windows Live mail as well as any mail account that uses a POP3 server for incoming messages. The app isn't as full-featured as on Windows Phone 7 but lets users quickly mass-delete messages or filter by the folder or the status.
The app is free and live now in the Zune Marketplace either on the device or in the Windows-based Zune software.
We gave the app a quick test and found it intuitive enough to navigate, though it won't replace WP7 or any other smartphone OS for serious mail use. The interface is simple, but the narrow-by-necessity on-screen keyboard isn't viable for more than a short message. It also seems to balk somewhat at Gmail accounts since it often fetches dozens or hundreds of messages and requires that you wait 10 to 20 seconds for it to finish getting messages every time it loads.
The release came a year and a half after the Zune HD launched and only now is catching up to some features that shipped in the original iPod touch. Apple used iOS from the iPhone almost directly in September 2007 and had a native mail client from the start, albeit without some of the features Microsoft's new app has.