Tag Archive: Google Apps Blog

Feb 09

Google Buzz in Gmail

Five years ago, Gmail was just email. Later we added chat and then video chat, both built right in, so people had choices about how to communicate from a single browser window. Today, communication on the web has evolved beyond email and chat — people are sharing photos with friends and family, commenting on news happening around them, and telling the world what they’re up to in real-time. This new social sharing is valuable, but it means there’s a lot more stuff to sort through, and it’s harder to get past status updates and engage in meaningful discussions.

Today, we’re launching Google Buzz, a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting and share updates, photos, videos and more. Buzz is built right into Gmail, so there’s nothing to set up — you’re automatically following the people you email and chat with the most.

We focused on making the sharing experience really rich by integrating photos, videos, and links. No more fuzzy little pictures: Buzz makes it easy to quickly flip through photos and experience them the way they were meant to be seen: big and full-resolution. And videos play inline so you can watch them without opening a new window.

You can choose to share publicly with the world or privately to a small group of friends each time you post. And you can connect other sites you use, today there’s Picasa, Flickr, Google Reader, and Twitter, so your friends can keep up with what you’re doing around the web — all in one place.

To make sure you don’t miss out on the best part of sharing, Buzz sends responses to your posts straight to your inbox. Unlike static email messages, buzz messages in your inbox are live conversations where comments appear in real time.

You can follow the specific people whose posts you want to see, but Buzz also recommends posts from people you’re not directly following, often ones where your friends are having a lively conversation in the comments. If you’re not interested in a particular recommendation, just click the “Not interested” link and your feedback will help improve the recommendations system. Buzz also weeds out uninteresting posts from the people you follow — collapsing inactive posts and short status messages like “brb.” These early versions of ranking and recommendations are just a start; we’re working on improvements that will help you automatically sort through all the social data being produced to find the most relevant conversations that matter to you.

For all those times when you want to share something but aren’t in front of your computer, Buzz is also available on your phone. When you’re out in the real world, a lot of the information you want to share often has to do with where you are: for example, you may want to talk about a new restaurant you discovered or the score of the game you’re watching. So rather than simply a small screen version of the desktop experience, Buzz for mobile brings location to the forefront and makes it easy to have conversations about places. In addition to checking out buzz from people you’re following, you can also see nearby buzz from the people around you.

We’ll be rolling out Google Buzz to everyone over the next few days; you’ll see a new “Buzz” link under “Inbox” when it’s on for your account. We’re still working on some features to make Buzz work well for businesses and schools, so it isn’t yet available in Google Apps, but stay tuned. If you want to learn more in the meantime, visit buzz.google.com or check out the Help Center.

Update (2/10): The video of yesterday’s Google Buzz launch event is now available.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/google-buzz-in-gmail-2

Feb 02

Improved Google Search in Labs

Hello again. I’ve been taking advantage of my 20% time to make some improvements in the Google Search lab I told you about last April. For starters, I’ve hooked up a bunch of Google’s most popular search features, including:

  • Dictionary definitions: use a keyword like “define” in English and you’ll see the first definition of the word, with a link to the dictionary from which it came.
  • Spelling corrections: if you mistype something in your search, Google’s spell checking software will automatically ask if you meant a more common spelling of that word (especially helpful when looking up a new word).
  • Calculations: type in an arithmetic expression and you’ll get the result. In this case the “Paste result” option from the result’s pop-up menu will actually paste the result of the computation.
  • Local results: you can search for a particular place or for things near a particular place (map results will show up in a few weeks — they’re a little broken by our recent switch to use https). The “More info” link will take you to the place page.
  • Weather: just type “weather” followed by the city and state, zip code, or city and country.
  • News: if your query matches something in the news, we’ll show you one hit and an indication of how many related articles there are, with a link to go see them.

In addition, you can now use this Labs feature in any available Gmail language and you’ll get search results that match your preferred language.

Finally, as some folks have already noticed, I added a search button to the toolbar when you’re composing a message:

If you’ve got text selected when you click it, Gmail will search for that text. If you don’t have text selected, you’ll just get a search box where you can start typing.

That’s all for this installment. As always, we welcome your feedback.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/improved-google-search-in-labs-2

Feb 01

Gmail Chrome extensions

There’s always that email. You know the one I’m talking about: the message we’re waiting for so anxiously that we end up checking our inbox 100 times a minute to see whether it’s arrived. Since last Monday, I’ve stopped being a manic tab switcher and the F5 key on my keyboard has breathed a sigh of relief — all thanks to the Google Mail extension in Google Chrome.

Extensions are small programs that help you customize your browsing experience. They can give you quick access to your favorite websites like Weather.com or eBay, provide alerts or updates from sites like Woot.com or NPR, or help you perform common online tasks such as getting driving directions or simply change the look and feel of your browser.

The Google Mail extension adds a nifty little button next to Google Chrome’s address bar that provides an updated indicator of the unread messages in your inbox. It also lets you access your inbox with just one click.

There’s also a Send from Gmail extension which makes Gmail your default email application and opens a compose window whenever you click an email address on a webpage. It also adds a new button next to the address bar that makes it easy to send an email directly from Gmail, pre-filling the subject of the message with the title of the web page you’re currently on and the body with selected page text and the link address.

There are several other Gmail extensions that the Google Chrome developer community has written; you can check out these and more than 2,000 other extensions in the Google Chrome Extensions gallery.

Google Chrome Extensions are now available for all Windows users. For those of you on Linux, extensions are enabled on the beta channel. Mac users, hang tight — extensions are coming to the beta soon.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/gmail-chrome-extensions-2

Jan 20

Serving better ads in Gmail

Ever since we launched Gmail, we’ve tried to show relevant and unobtrusive ads. We’re always trying to improve our algorithms to show better, more useful ads.

When you open a message in Gmail, you often see ads related to that email. Let’s say you’re looking at a confirmation email from a hotel in Chicago. Next to your email, you might see ads about flights to Chicago.

But sometimes, there aren’t any good ads to match to a particular message. From now on, you’ll sometimes see ads matched to another recent email instead. For example, let’s say you’re looking at a message from a friend wishing you a happy birthday. If there aren’t any good ads for birthdays, you might see the Chicago flight ads related to your last email instead.

To show these ads, our systems don’t need to store any extra information — Gmail just picks a different recent email to match. The process is entirely automated: no humans are involved in selecting ads, and no email or personal information is shared with advertisers.

We’ve updated a help center article and a few faqs where we had specified that ads alongside an email were related only to the text of the current message. This doesn’t change the Gmail privacy policy. We’ve also created this short video explaining the change:

We’ll be rolling this out over the next few days. With this change, we hope you see better ads in Gmail — more of what you’re interested in and less of what you’re not.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/serving-better-ads-in-gmail-2

Jan 13

Default https access for Gmail

In 2008, we rolled out the option to always use https — encrypting your mail as it travels between your web browser and our servers. Using https helps protect data from being snooped by third parties, such as in public wifi hotspots. We initially left the choice of using it up to you because there’s a downside: https can make your mail slower since encrypted data doesn’t travel across the web as quickly as unencrypted data. Over the last few months, we’ve been researching the security/latency tradeoff and decided that turning https on for everyone was the right thing to do.

We are currently rolling out default https for everyone. If you’ve previously set your own https preference from Gmail Settings, nothing will change for your account. If you trust the security of your network and don’t want default https turned on for performance reasons, you can turn it off at any time by choosing “Don’t always use https” from the Settings menu. Gmail will still always encrypt the login page to protect your password. Google Apps users whose admins have not already defaulted their entire domains to https will have the same option.

To read about other steps you can take to protect your accounts and your computers, visit google.com/help/security.

Note: If you use offline Gmail over http currently, the switch to https is likely to cause some problems. Learn more about this known issue and how to work around it.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/default-https-access-for-gmail-2

Jan 05

Gmail on Nexus One

Not only does the just-announced Nexus One have a beautiful display, snappy processor, and five megapixel camera complete with flash and geotagging, but you can also buy it online with or without a service plan. Plus, it runs Android 2.1, which adds a couple of new features to the native Gmail application:

  • Quick contact badge: Press the contact status icon within Gmail, and a handy box shows all of the ways you can reply to a contact — including email, chat, SMS, and Facebook.
  • Voice input: Swipe the keyboard, then just speak to select contacts or write an email, complete with punctuation. Period!

Nexus One also features the Gmail updates of Android 2.0, including:

  • Multiple Gmail accounts: Sync multiple accounts to the same device and switch between them without leaving the app.
  • Undo: A handy ‘undo’ link makes it easier to retrieve messages when you hit archive or delete by mistake. (Note: you can’t yet undo send as you can with the desktop version of Gmail).

For more information on Nexus One visit google.com/phone. To learn more about Gmail on this and other Android devices, check out the Gmail page on mobile.google.com/android, or watch this video:

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/gmail-on-nexus-one-2

Dec 23

It’s been real, 2009

Ah 2009…turning five, finally shedding that beta label, and adding more than 40 new features. As we wind down after a busy year, here’s a look back at a handful of our favorite additions to Gmail.  We hope you enjoy trying them out as much as we enjoyed building them.

On behalf of the entire Gmail team, happy holidays! See you next year.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/its-been-real-2009-2

Dec 15

One button to merge all duplicate contacts

Managing a big address book can be a challenge, so it’s no surprise that the top request for Google contacts is a fast, easy way to merge duplicate contacts. You’ve been able to merge contacts one-by-one for a while, but now we’ve added a single button that merges all your duplicate contacts at once. To clean up your contact list in one fell swoop, just click the “Find duplicates” button in the contact manager, review the merge suggestions (and uncheck any suggestions you don’t want merged), and hit the “Merge” button.

If you’ve been considering getting all your contacts into Gmail or syncing your Gmail contacts to your phone, now’s the time to do it. As we’ve written about previously, you can sync your contacts to a wide variety of devices (including Android, iPhone, Blackberry, SyncML, etc). So if you were dreading spending hours getting your contacts in order, now you can do it with a couple clicks.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/one-button-to-merge-all-duplicate-contacts-2

Dec 15

More Russian Gmail videos

Recently, I reunited with some colleagues in our Moscow office (the same team that brought you this Gmail art video last year) on a set of animated videos showcasing some of Gmail’s features: messages grouped into conversations, great spam protection, built-in video chat, offline access, and themes. Some of the humor in these videos may be uniquely Russian — they revolve around a character who imagines what the world would be like if everyday objects worked like Gmail, like this video that compares unthreaded conversations to a mess of laundry:

In case the Russian version is too confusing, we’ve translated all the videos into English here.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/more-russian-gmail-videos-2

Dec 14

New in Labs: Mark unread from here

I subscribe to a lot of really active mailing lists. Oftentimes, an email in my inbox will get dozens of replies before I get a chance to start reading it. If I only have a few moments to look at a particularly long and interesting discussion, I’d like to start reading it then; later, when I have some more time, I’ll pick up where I left off. However, if I mark the thread as unread, it will return to its previously read state without updating to show what I just read. When I come back to it, I’ll have to search for the last thing I remember reading. If I star the first message I still want to read instead, I might not remember that it needs to be read when I’m in my inbox later (and when I do read it, I’ll have to expand lots of messages before I can read the conversation properly).

There’s a new feature in Gmail Labs that will help with this. When you enable Mark Unread From Here from the Labs tab under Settings, you’ll see a new “Mark unread from here” option in the drop down menu found in the upper right-hand corner of messages.

Clicking this option on a message tells Gmail that you want that message to be the first one you see when you reopen the thread later, with all messages after it open for easy reading. So, when you leave partway through reading a long thread, figuring out where to start reading again is easy. Give it a try and share your thoughts.

Permanent link to this article: http://jimstips.com/official-gmail-news/new-in-labs-mark-unread-from-here-3

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