I took my new iPad to a meeting yesterday. An issue came up that made me want to look at an attachment to an old email. I whipped out the iPad and found the right folder, but the e-mail wasn’t there. In fact, I could find none of my old emails. When I got home, I tried the same thing on my iPod Touch, with the same results.
This is an interesting defect. The email program works the same way on two devices. On the iPod Touch, it’s not a problem, because the tiny screen does not encourage anything but minimal dealing with urgent emails. On the iPad, the large screen made me want to treat the iPad the same way I treat a laptop with Outlook on it: as a device which gives me access to my entire Exchange mailbox.
I went into the e-mail settings screen, and found the option of downloading up to 200 recent messages, but no option to download everything. That appears to be a limitation of the iPad/iPhone e-mail client. There may be additional limitations due to Microsoft’s ActiveSync connector for Exchange.
In addition, the search function within the email client doesn’t appear to search attachments.
I called tech support at Apple. The techs were helpful and moderately knowledgeable, but they were limited by their training and by the fact that they didn’t have iPads to verify things. One of them suggested a reasonable way to figure out whether the problem was with ActiveSync or with the mail client: setup an IMAP4 mailbox, upload a bunch of messages to it, let them get old, and see if you can see them on the iPad mail client. I don’t think I’ll do that: it’s a lot of time and trouble, and the knowledge gained won’t produce a solution to the problem.
I’ll just dial down my expectations for the iPad and carry my laptop when I need more than casual access to e-mail.