Tag Archives | Google Gmail

What’s Gotten Into Gmail?

My, how hyperactive Gmail has become.

Google’s web mail service just rolled out a “people widget,” which shows information about the person you’re e-mailing right next to the message, but that’s not the only change we’ve seen recently in Gmail. Here’s a quick rundown of other changes:

  • Importance Markers: Like a light version of Gmail’s priority inbox, these little yellow tabs attempt to decipher which e-mails are truly important. You can help the algorithm out by using plus and minus markers in the top navigation bar.
  • AIM in GChat: AOL now lets Instant Messenger users migrate their buddies to Gmail’s chat service. You can add individual buddies by typing their screen names followed by “@aol.com,” or add everyone by choosing “options” in AIM, clicking “Add to Buddy List” and selecting “Set up Google Talk.”
  • Advanced advertisements: Google’s been rolling out a new automated ad system for Gmail that looks not only at the content of e-mails, but at whether the user is reading or deleting messages. The idea is to make ads smarter by pinning down the user’s main interests.

I don’t know what’s going on in the Googleplex, but Yahoo, meanwhile, has been rolling out its own big upgrades for Yahoo Mail, and they’re quite nice. Perhaps Google is rapidly releasing its own new features to stay competitive, or maybe it’s just coincidence.

Whatever the case, I don’t find any of Gmail’s recent changes intrusive or offensive, but they’re not game-changers, either. And that’s okay; I like Gmail just the way it is.


Google Gives Gmail Smart Labels

When I first tried the clutterbusting Gmail feature known as Priority Inbox last August, I wasn’t sure what to think of it. It took a couple of months of patient use, but I got hooked. And now Google is introducing a related feature called Smart Labels, which automatically figures out if particular messages are bulk mailings, forum missives, or notifications. As TechCrunch’s Jason Kincaid notes, Hotmail introduced something similar months ago–but it’s still good to see it land in Gmail. (It’s currently a Labs feature, which means you’ll need to enable it.)

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Gmail Slowdowns Rile Up Some Users

If hanging progress bars and “still working” messages have become the norm for your Gmail experience, you’re not alone.

A thread on Gmail’s slow behavior started a couple weeks ago and continues to see new posts. The problems users are reporting — hang-ups on basic tasks and painfully slow searches — apply across all browsers and platforms. (Full disclosure: Gmail has, at times, been quite slow for me over the last few weeks, so I have a heightened interest in what’s going on.)

From what I can tell, this isn’t a new problem. There are no less than four other Gmail slowdown threads, dating back to spring 2009. And in January 2008, Scott Karp posted similar observations, in a blog post that got dozens of responses. Users in the latest thread say they started having problems weeks or months ago.

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5 Gmail Features I Want to Go Mobile

Gmail recently added a couple new features that I’m pretty stoked about, as reported by The Next Web. The first is an extended time window of 30 seconds for “Undo Send” — a feature that’s not available in the mobile version — and the second is push notifications for mobile Gmail.

That got me thinking of how the desktop version of Gmail has a lot of features that aren’t available in the mobile version. Though I like HTML5 Gmail enough to use it instead of the Mail app on both the iPhone and iPad, I would love to see some more desktop features migrate to mobile. Read on for a short list of what’s missing.

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Gmail for iPad Becomes a Smooth Operator

Like it or not, technology has a vain side, one that strives to make things pretty as well as functional.

That’s the side Google is appealing to with Gmail for iPad’s new “stacked cards” interface. Now, when you select an e-mail from the left column, the message slides out into the right column with a smooth animation. Selecting more e-mails creates a pile of messages, like hastily stacked index cards (hence the name), which can be deleted, archived or moved in bulk.

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Multiple Google Account Sign-Ins Tested on Some Lucky Users

Google’s quietly testing the much-needed ability to sign into multiple user accounts within a single browser session, according to the folks at the unofficial Google Operating System blog.

The multiple sign-in feature applies to Google Docs, Calendar, Reader, Code, Sites and Gmail. Other services will default to the account that signed in first, and using multiple accounts will disable offline mode. There’s no indication of when multiple sign-ins will roll out to everyone; a Google representative told Lifehacker that there’s nothing to announce at this time.

Surely I’m not the only one who would love multiple sign-ins for Google services. If you’ve got separate Gmail or Docs accounts for work and personal matters, switching back and forth is a hassle. Aside from manually signing out of one account to access another, your options are to use a private or incognito session in browsers that allow it, open different web browsers for each account or install a Greasemonkey script in Firefox.

And none of those solutions nix the nuisance I’ve been running into lately: My wife and I share an iPad, and every time she checks her e-mail on the device, I’ve got to sign her out once it’s my turn. Switching between browsers is too bothersome, and enabling private browsing in Atomic Web doesn’t allow for multiple log-ins. I hope Google extends multiple sign-ins to its mobile sites, or else I’m still out of luck.