Back in May 2013, Google’s Gmail had made some changes to their user interface, but the fact was that not enough changes were made to the interface to make it attractive. Microsoft’s Outlook.com looks and acts far superior; it’s clean design and function speaks for itself. Plus, it’s the preferred layout that pretty much everyone uses/expects.
So essentially there’s been about five years where Google hasn’t done anything substantial with Gmail. Google has been messing with a new email client called Inbox, but Inbox hasn’t really caught on and with the latest update to Gmail, it seems like Inbox may be something that Google retires soon.
If you have a Gmail account, you can go to Gmail.com and check out the new layout now. If you don’t see the new layout, you should be able to go to the top right-hand corner, click on the settings cog, and choose the option to choose the new Gmail.
One of the first things that I noticed is that the Gmail inbox looks a little bit cleaner. It looks like they’ve updated the fonts, but the most noticeable thing is on the far right-hand side of the browser window; you’ll find your Google calendar, Google Keep, and now Google tasks. there’s also a + that takes you to the G Suite Marketplace; giving you access to applications that integrate with Gmail, but also compatible to be seen in the sidebar.
The sidebar does add some convenience to Gmail, but I don’t think that it’s a genius idea or a monumental addition to Gmail. I say this because, in my browser, in the bookmarks toolbar, I already had shortcuts to my calendar, Gmail, Google Keep and Google photos; in my case, I’m just clicking a different spot for the same functions.
When I choose the option to click on the Google Calendar, it gives me a preview of that day’s events; I don’t see an option to give me a month you. I think that would’ve been more helpful.
Once you’re in the sidebar calendar, you do have some options. There’s a drop-down button by the date and you can also navigate left to right for the days. In the top right-hand corner, you have the option to open the calendar in a separate window altogether. If you have emails that you want to place on your calendar, you can use the drag-and-drop function directly to the calendar sidebar.
Google Keep is also in the sidebar. When you click on the Google Keep icon, it opens a simple interface. Any notes that you had previously taken with Google Keep become available. The notes can be viewed, edited and added; as well as deleted.
I think Google Keep is one of those note-taking applications that’s essential. It’s the place that you want to keep snippets of information it’s going to be useful later. you don’t so much need to be able to drag and drop a whole email into Google Keep; that’s not what it’s for, but I should be able to open an email, select text and then be able to drag and drop that text into Google Keep. Unfortunately, you can’t do that at this time, but copy/cut and paste is always a fallback.
Adding a shortcut to Google Tasks is convenient, and with this sidebar option, you do have the ability to drag-and-drop emails into Google Tasks. I’m not sure how this is going to integrate because at the time of this article these features are not cooked into the Gmail application on android.
If Google was looking to make this more productive, they should’ve focused on more office functions. for instance, you have access to the Google calendar sidebar, but they don’t show you your daily events or events coming up. Google Keep allows you to create lists and set due dates; that information is not even utilized here. Google Tasks can be created, but again, the users are not provided information about what’s useful and what’s pending.
Another big item that’s missing from the new Gmail redesign is that there’s no shortcut directly to your contacts; is no address book. and because Gmail is completely web-based, I’m surprised that they don’t have their other web services like Google drive and Google photos burned into this new version.
Don’t get me wrong; I like the fact that Google has made an effort to update their email system. It’s a slight improvement. It’s not great, but maybe this is a small step in the right direction, and Microsoft is still kicking their butt in the user interface department.
Until next time…