I'm not quite sure when it happened,1 but the Gmail BlackBerry client now interfaces directly with the device. In other words, the BlackBerry knows when I receive an e-mail through the Gmail client. In fact, after you install the client, you're given Gmail-centric options in the profile settings (e.g., you can define a particular tone for messages received through the client, etc.).
The client works so well that it hasn't even crossed my mind to setup the BlackBerry e-mail client to receive my Gmail e-mail (I go back-and-forth on the need/desire to have my non-work e-mail pushed). If you'd like, it will even add a "Sent from Gmail for mobile" signature to the bottom of e-mails sent through the client (unfortunately, however, the language currently can't be changed).
Other things worth mentioning are its overall speed, the lightning-fast auto-completion of contacts in the to/cc/bcc fields (it works just like regular Gmail!), the pre-fetching of e-mails in anticipation of your opening them, and its general robustness.
If I have to complain about something, it would be the seemingly will-nilly background polling for new e-mail. There are no options to specify with regard to how often the client will check for new e-mail, and I can't figure out its apparently random schedule. There's a manual solution to this (i.e., just click "refresh"), but I'd prefer a frequency I can modify. Also, support for contact groups would be nice.
I think it's safe to say that Rui is onto something:
As far as I can tell, despite [Google] regularly churning out standard MIDP versions of their apps for other phones, there are actually more Google applications for the Blackberry than for any other mobile device. And I don’t mean icons with shortcuts to the browser, I mean actual running code.
Which is, in my mind, doubly interesting when you consider that Android is, for all practical intents and purposes, a Java platform (you code in Java, even if the end result doesn’t run in a “normal” Java VM).So yeah, they might just be using the Blackberry (definitely the best Java-based platform out there right now) as a prototype/playground of sorts. (emphasis mine).