Designed to let you easily deliver Gmail-enabled features, this new API is a standard Google API, which gives RESTful access to a user’s mailbox under OAuth 2.0 authorization. It supports CRUD operations on true Gmail datatypes such as messages, threads, labels and drafts.
As a standard Google API, you make simple HTTPS calls and get your responses in JSON, XML or Google Protobuf formats. You can also make these calls from standard web languages like Java and Python without using a TCP socket, which means the API is accessible from many cloud environments that couldn’t support IMAP.
In contrast to IMAP, which requires access to all of a user’s messages for all operations, the new API gives fine-grained control to a user’s mailbox. For example, if your app only needs to send mail on behalf of a user and does not need to read mail, you can limit your permission request to send-only.
To keep in sync, the API allows you to query the inbox change history, thereby avoiding the need to do “archaeology” to figure out what changed.
Finally, a huge benefit is speed. While there’s still some tuning to be done (“beta” - remember?), results from our tests and feedback from pre-release developers suggest that the new Gmail API is delivering dramatic performance improvements over IMAP for web application use cases.
Check out the launch video and get started with samples, tutorials, and API references at https://developers.google.com/gmail/api/. We can’t wait to see what you build.
Posted by Eric DeFriez, Gmail Extensibility Team. As a technical lead for Gmail APIs, Eric works to make it easy for developers to build on top of Gmail.