Monday, November 3, 2008

New from Gmail (Labs)

A picture is worth a thousand words

Here on the Gmail team, we're always thinking of ways to help you communicate. Back in the day, we put chat right inside Gmail. Then along came group chat and more emoticons. And when we realized that late night communication had its downsides, we created a state-of-the-art lucidity test for after-hours email. Anyway, the black and white days of text-based emails have had their day. Following the evolutionary path blazed by colored labels, we present, in all their technicolor glory, emoticons in your mail.

No more will you have to settle for a ;) when you can have a. Out with the "XOXO" and in with the. And of course, when the bad news smells really bad, transcends all words.

So raise yourand welcome in the colorful new world of Gmail

P.S. For those of you who love our chat smileys,
we've also added a whole new set for your enjoyment.

Gmail for mobile: faster, smoother, and now in more languages

When I joined the Gmail for mobile team a year ago, the mobile client worked like a web application designed for networks that were always available. This was fine on a fast and reliable network, but when you hopped on the subway, network reliability could be a big problem. Today, we're happy to announce Gmail for mobile 2.0 for J2ME-supported and BlackBerry phones. For this version, we changed our fundamental assumption about the network. We re-thought every action that you might perform with the app and tried to solve for the case where there is no signal. We wanted to make the mobile client faster and more reliable and added some other new features along the way.

If you haven't tried Gmail on your phone in a while, try this new version and let us know what you think. Gmail for mobile 2.0 is designed to be more reliable in low signal areas and provides basic offline support for phones like the Nokia N95, Sony Ericsson W910i, and BlackBerry Curve. You can now log into multiple accounts (including both Gmail and Google Apps email accounts) at the same time. Switching between them is as easy as a few button clicks or just hitting + j on phones that have a QWERTY keyboard. We've also added support for multiple mobile drafts, undo (using the menu or the z shortcut), and sending mail in the background (no more staring at the "Sending..." dialog until it finally gets sent). Be sure to check the help page from Gmail for mobile's main menu for a list of all keyboard shortcuts.

To download Gmail for mobile version 2.0, just go to in your mobile browser.

Parlez-vous français? ¿Habla usted español? Gmail for mobile 2.0 supports over 35 languages, and the application language will automatically match your phone's language setting.

New in Labs: Canned Responses

Hello, you've reached Chad's mailbox. Thanks for your email about the latest Labs feature: Canned Responses, or email for the truly lazy. I'm on paternity leave so I won't be able to respond personally. Instead, I hope you'll enjoy this automated message.

If you're sick of typing out the same reply every time someone emails you with a common question, now you can compose your reply once and save the message text with the "Canned responses" button. Later, you can open that same message and send it again and again.

It couldn't get any easier unless Gmail automatically pushed the Send button. If you're lazy enough to think that would be a good idea, then read on, friend.

Gmail already lets you create filters based on a combination of keywords, sender, recipients, and more in your incoming messages. Turn on Canned Responses in Labs, and you can set a filter to grab one of your saved responses, create an automated reply, and hit the Send button for you.

You can set up different automated messages for different keywords, just like you said you wanted. (We're friends, so I trust you to use this power responsibly.)

More changes to Gmail contact manager

After hearing consistent feedback that you wanted more control over your contacts, we've changed the way Gmail suggests contacts to you. Up to this point, if you emailed someone five times, we'd automatically move them into My Contacts. Now, we'll no longer automatically add contacts to your My Contacts group. Instead, you can go to Suggested Contacts, select the contacts you'd like and move them into My Contacts. All of your contacts -- whether they're in My Contacts or Suggested Contacts -- will continue to show in auto-complete as you're composing messages.

As part of this change, we're moving previously auto-added contacts back into Suggested Contacts. Only contacts that you've edited, imported or added to a group will remain in My Contacts. This will provide everyone with a clean slate and, we hope, a better point for syncing contacts with mobile devices (for example with Android). We'll be rolling this change out to everyone over the next few days.

We realize there's a lot we can do to make Gmail contacts even more useful, and the feedback we received last time we updated the contact manager was helpful, so keep letting us know what you think.

A sneak peek at Gmail on Android

The first Android-powered phone, the T-Mobile G1, is coming out on Wednesday. My friends know that I work on Android, and as you can imagine, I get asked about it all the time. I have a lot to say about the G1, but I always begin by telling them that lots of Google products, including Gmail, are available for free, on several mobile devices.

I've been using Gmail on the go for more than a year now and it's difficult to imagine my life without ubiquitous email access. It proves handy every day -- whether for keeping a close eye on a (very) busy inbox, finding the address of a party while already in the taxi, or sending out a spontaneous dinner plan while on the bus back home.

If you like using Gmail on your computer you'll feel very much at ease with Gmail on Android-powered phones. You can download documents and MP3s, manage and view labels, star and archive messages, save drafts and even report spam.

I check my email frequently and have two Gmail accounts -- one for work and one for personal life. Before I started using Gmail on the T-Mobile G1, I used to check my mail by actively reloading or refreshing my inbox on one of my other mobile devices. And with two email accounts, I had to repeat this twice each time.

Not anymore. With the combination of push email and notifications on the status-bar, I never have to check for new mail. Whenever a new message arrives, I immediately get notified (in real time) with a little "@" sign at the top (see image below on the left). With a single swipe I can pull down the notification pane and see my new messages (on the right).

But the best thing, in my mind, about Gmail on Android-powered phones, is the way email is deeply integrated with other applications. For instance, let's say I'm browsing the web, reading my favorite tech blog. When I come across a post that I'd like to share, I can simply press and hold my finger down on the link and then choose "share" to immediately create an email with that article's web address. The tight integration with Contacts on the device then allows Gmail to suggest contacts based on the first letters I type.

All of your Gmail contacts are immediately available on the phone upon first log-in. And whenever you create a new contact on the device it's automatically synced with your Gmail contacts and therefore immediately backed-up, so you never need to worry about losing your contacts if you lose or break your phone.

To learn more about Gmail on the world's first Android-powered phone, check out our Mobile blog post, the Gmail page on, or watch this instructional video:

Tip: Sending empty messages

I often send messages where the subject is the entire message (e.g. "Want to grab lunch at 12:30?"), and Gmail would always prompt me to add in body text.

Now, however, you can add "EOM" or "(EOM)" at the end of the subject line (short for End Of Message), and Gmail will silently send the message without the unnecessary prompt.

New in Labs: Advanced IMAP Controls

From the team that brought you Mail Goggles, here comes...Advanced IMAP Controls, a Labs feature that lets you fine-tune your Gmail IMAP experience. You can choose which labels to sync in IMAP -- useful if you find your mail client choking on a big [Gmail]/All Mail folder.

After enabling this Lab, just go to the Labels tab under Settings. You'll see a new 'Show in IMAP' checkbox next to each of your labels. Uncheck the box and the corresponding folder will disappear from IMAP.

There are also some more obscure options for those of you who want to make Gmail's IMAP work more like traditional IMAP providers: you can turn off auto-expunge or trash messages when they're no longer visible through IMAP.

The IMAP protocol allows messages to be marked for deletion, a sort of limbo state where a message is still present in the folder but slated to be deleted the next time the folder is expunged. In our standard IMAP implementation, when you mark a message as deleted, Gmail doesn't let it linger in that state -- it deletes (or auto-expunges) it from the folder right away. If you want the two-stage delete process, after you've enabled this Lab, just select 'Do not automatically expunge messages' under the 'Forwarding and POP/IMAP' tab in Settings.

Similarly, most IMAP systems don't share Gmail's concept of archiving messages (sending messages to the [Gmail]/All Mail folder rather than [Gmail]/Trash). If you'd prefer that deleted messages not remaining in any other visible IMAP folders are sent to [Gmail]/Trash instead, Advanced IMAP Controls lets you set your preferences this way. In the 'IMAP Access:' section of the 'Forwarding and POP/IMAP' tab, find the 'When a message is deleted from the last visible IMAP folder:' option. Select 'Move the message to the Gmail Trash.' If you want to take it one step further, you can select 'Immediately delete the message forever.'