In our opinion, the best things in life come in subtle forms. You don’t have to be very loud about something, but if you’re into the details, then that’s great. Google seems to develop its web applications like this: incrementally. But the small updates it does are by no means little feats. These greatly enhance usability and functionality of their products.
For instance, the GMail team has recently announced five new features on the very popular email service. They’re not really big features, but if you use GMail frequently, you would appreciate them.
Omnipresent “reply” buttons. Before, you had to scroll down to the bottom of a conversation or up to the very top to look for the “reply” button or link, particularly if you need other options like “reply to all” or “forward”. This can be very cumbersome when you’re dealing with very long threads. Now, there’s a “reply” link on every message header.
New message notifications. What’s great about GMail is its conversations view. You get to read a message thread as a whole conversation and not as a single email. This is great when you’re subscribed to a mailing list, since emails of the same subject are grouped together as one single conversation. However, it can get messy if you’re replying to a message that other people are also replying to at the same time. GMail now gives you an alert when there are new messages in the thread, so you can check them out before hitting the send button. This can save you from potential embarassment from replying to something that already has an answer.
Forward all. Now this is a useful feature! Not only can you forward a single message (yawn!), you can now forward an entire conversation as a single email. This is especially great if you need to show the person you’re sending email to how the email exchange looks like.
Offline chatting. This was one bid disadvantage of the Google Talk service before–you cannot receive messages while you’re in offline mode. Now GTalk and GMail+Chat can receive messages when the person is offline. The missed chat actually goes straight to your message inbox view, so you won’t miss anything.
Gmail on mobile. Mobile internet via standard WAP clients wasn’t the forte of Google. But now they have a mobile-based client that can be used to access the mobile versions of most of Google’s services. The mobile Gmail version is excellent in that the interface is very much like the desktop counterpart. And it’s up-to-date and in sync with your actual GMail inbox, so you won’t have to sort according to folders, mark with stars, or labels, twice. You just have to access either from your desktop or your mobile, and changes will take effect across your other devices.