Google have really been cranking up the creative lever recently and have released a number of improvements to their already excellent Gmail service.
I’ve been a big fan of Gmail dating back to September 2004 when I first signed up to an account and quickly recognised Google’s email offering for what it was: an online e-mail service that could rival the functionality of locally-based email accessed through a ‘client’. Up to that point web-based email was undoubtedly the poor relation of email solutions but Google’s offering quickly changed all that. Back then, Gmail didn’t offer IMAP support so there was no choice but to use it via a browser but the huge benefits of keeping email ‘out there’ in cyberspace were nonetheless obvious. And this is years before the phrases ‘Cloud Computing’ and ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) were ever coined.
Today, of course, people who aren’t keeping their email in the ‘cloud’ are just blatantly behind the curve and potentially courting disaster should their hard disk fail or some other misfortune strike that makes their locally-based email inaccessible.
Most recently, Gmail has seen offline support via their Google Gears technology be added to the extensive list of bells and whistles that Gmail already boasted. A quick look down the Google Mail labs list in your account quickly reveals a long list of truly innovative – if rather peculiar – experimental features. While I’ve found the tasks list, superstars, quick links and custom label colours features all extremely useful, I can’t say the same for all of them. Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever find a need for ‘Mail Goggles’ or ‘Old Snakey’.
This morning, I noticed that the menu bar in Gmail has been updated which has revealed some interesting ‘muscle memory’ that I’ve developed over the past few years when deleting email. The bar’s visual refresh - which, dare I say it looks a little ‘Windows 7 esque’ - has seen the delete button move to the left. Because of this, I’ve been hitting the ‘Labels’ button all morning instead of delete which has made my morning task of wading through emails a touch more tiresome that usual.
Of course, Google illustrated on Saturday afternoon that even they aren’t above a slip-up when every hit from their search engine was marked as potentially harmful to your computer. Cheeky Google even had the audacity to flag up Law Actually as harmful:
Google have since admitted that the problem which reportedly lasted for about 40 minutes was caused by ‘human error’ but nonetheless left millions of web users scratching their heads for a while.