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September 24, 2007

Gmail 2.0


Garett Rogers reports that Google prepares a new version of Gmail, according to a message from the translation console. It's not clear what are the new features, but one thing that will change is the user interface.

When Google introduced Gmail in 2004, it was one of the first important web applications that used AJAX, but not in an excessive manner. Meanwhile, Yahoo and Microsoft released new versions of their mail services that tried to duplicate the familiar interface of a desktop mail client like Outlook (Yahoo bought Oddpost - an AJAX pioneer, while Microsoft rewrote Hotmail from the ground up). Yahoo Mail Beta had many problems with performance and that's why the classic version of Yahoo Mail is still available as an option. Windows Live Hotmail offers by default a classic version that doesn't use AJAX because the new interface "was too slow to load, too different and, well, just not like the old Hotmail it was intended to replace". The advantages of a desktop-like interface are many: an easier way to move a message to a folder using drag & drop, a reading pane that lets you read messages, "infinite scrolling" for reading your mail, but the trade-off is an interface that reacts very slowly and is not user-friendly.

The new Gmail interface could add some new views for your messages, a way to group related messages, sorting messages by size or sender and improve the search by indexing attachments and providing a better way to filter search results.

Beyond the interface, Gmail 2.0 could be an important part of the new social trend at Google and may even become Social Gmail. Google could use your messages to detect social relations that would the base of a new contact management application. Because you use Gmail's address book in an increasingly number of Google applications to share web pages, photos, documents, blog posts, Google could show you a comprehensive overview of all the items shared with a contact.

Many people asked for a Google Reader integration in Gmail (you can already do that using a Greasemonkey script) and a recently leaked video mentioned this possibility, even though Google Reader still has problems with scaling and wouldn't handle Gmail's traffic.

Gmail should also add offline support using Google Gears. "Gmail Offline will allow users to browse, reply, save drafts and do everything that currently Gmail does in an offline mode even when you don't have an Internet connection," reported an Indian newspaper. More likely, the offline Gmail will provide limited access to some of your recent messages, to your contact list and will let you compose new messages. It's just a small compromise for those who don't want to use a desktop mail client, but need offline access for their mail and contacts.

The IMAP support would make Gmail an even better option for the enterprise, so Google might also consider complement POP3 with a more robust and flexible protocol.

Hopefully, Gmail 2.0 will continue to focus on simplicity and user-friendliness, while polishing the interface and adding new features that connect it with other Google applications. One of the goals for Gmail 2.0 is "70% user happiness", so don't expect it to be perfect.

Update (October 30): Gmail 2.0, now available.

36 comments:

  1. I am all for updating and I think Gmail could do with these tweeks.

    However I just wish they would get their current Gmail for my domain to work with my blackberry first (full blackberry support, not their app).

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  2. too bad..! no encrypt email ahead.!

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  3. gears would be nice, but it ties it way too much to the browser. Couldn't they just use Google Desktop to act as a proxy for Gmail?

    All messages would be cached, it is cross platform and cross browser..and it would seem to be much more robust than gears

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  4. I wanna see Gmail, Reader and Calendar to be combined into one. A To-Do list would definitely be a plus point. I want something like the To-Do bar in outlook 2007. It's very useful to get organized.

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  5. << Use Google Desktop to act as a proxy for Gmail. >>

    Google Desktop already allows you to search your messages from a Gmail account, but it takes days or even weeks to index all your messages (especially if you have thousands). Google could add a mini-email client in Google Desktop, but this is not a replacement for a Gears-enabled Gmail. Hopefully, in a year or two all the browsers will have offline support for web apps and you won't have to install a plug-in.

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  6. They have the best email client so far. I just hope they don't mess it up.

    I don't think I even need offline mode.

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  7. What Gmail needs most is to just load up faster!

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  8. Can't wait...just seem so great...

    I wish Google could release Gmail 2.0 asap...

    hans

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  9. For encryped email, check out FireGPG. It's not x.509 certificates, but it does allow you to use PGP easily in the gmail interface.

    I think IMAP would be an awesome addition. I currently get a lot of email that I tag and archive immediately on arrival using filters. With POP3, all that mail still comes through. It'd be great it IMAP could be used to retrieve only the Inbox.

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  10. very nice summary of all what's gong on on the blogsphere concerning GMail. As for me I wish Gmail would stop to manage my address book I want to have control over who is added over there. Aart from that I a bit skeptical about Google Gears. It's really not ready at all. Each time I try to use for Google Reader it's simply broken.

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  11. Personally, I'd like to see tags enabled. Not the label thing they currently use, but tags. And please lord don't limit how many I can have. I've got over 150 deals working currently, and tagging would greatly improve me having to try to dig them up via search when I need an old message.

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  12. we need unlimited storage like Yahoomail :-)

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  13. @Starmile:
    I agree that Gmail's labels are more like categories and it's difficult to manage them if you have too many. Maybe Gmail should combine folders, tags and categories in an hierarchical structure and offer a way to visualize the hierarchy.

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  14. Just improve the contacts. Make it easier to add, group, label, etc. That is all I require.

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  15. Not that the version number really matters, but it's kind of amusing to hear people talking about "Gmail 2.0" when Google hasn't even dropped the Beta label on their current offering. Technically, they haven't even reached 1.0 yet....

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  16. Actually, I didn't call it Gmail 2.0. Google called it this way in an internal document.

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  17. GMail should also learn from Scrybe (iscrybe.com) and the Cooliris feature of Firefox browser. I had sent out a bucketload of such suggestions to GMail staff. Hopefully they found them useful.

    One functionality I would love to see is timed sending out of certain email, like preparing a birthday wishes email in advance to go out at the right time, perhaps even as a recurring event.

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  18. Indexing attachments sounds great, but when will this be implemented for Google Desktop Search? (For me the main reason GDS is not the #1 desktop search tool)

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  19. GuillaumeB:

    I agree on the address book thing. I recently did a reply to all from a message one of my friends send me. He used Outlook and thus many of the names had "(email)" after them (an annoyance in and of itself, but another topic). Gmail changed many of my contact names that actually made sense to add this (email) text. I actually like the way Yahoo! does it where after a message is sent there's an option to add the recipients to the address book.

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  20. I want Gmail to support regular expressions when I create new filters, or search.

    While it wouldn't help the regular user, it would certainly not hurt them either.

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  21. damn, they should integrate gmail with google reader already!

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  22. Interesting to see a social gmail. Freature your blog at blogsearch.sg

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  23. IMAP!! It seems that would be a much simpler solution than Gears.

    I'd also like a way to sort messages by size and more/unlimited filters.

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  24. How could IMAP replace Gears? Google Gears is about using a web application when you're offline. So you're still using Gmail's interface, not a desktop client.

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  25. @ Nitin, on "timed sending",
    +1

    @ Tor, on regular expression search,
    +1

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  26. Interesting, especially the integration with Google Gears to do an easy backup. But the new interface should not slow down the whole service !

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  27. I don't need social email, encryption, or desktop Gmail. All I want is IMAP support so I have functional access to my Gmail on my iPhone. It's actually kind of shocking that Yahoo Mail supports IMAP and hip, forward-thinking Gmail doesn't.

    When will 2.0 be released?

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  28. Yahoo doesn't even offer POP3 for free. The IMAP part is only for iPhone, right?

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  29. I'm very put off by the lack of flexibility with Google's address book, i.e. "Contacts" list. I find it difficult to keep my contacts up to date, and I can't easily sync them with my Apple computer. Please consider putting the address book in a format that would make it easier to export (and make sense of). Thank you :)

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  30. Sweet jesus google! When do you stop making good stuff?
    Love ya 'all, keep up all the good work!

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  31. gdrive built-in??

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  32. I want to see the following in order to make Gmail Contacts your master store of contact information:

    - LDAP publication and integration (read + write) to allow rich client use (eg Mac OS X Contacts)
    - Integration with Open Social to get notification when contacts change their info

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  33. As for me, I really need a regular expressions support in search. The absence of this feature is frustrating!

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  34. hi...i m not able to access new version of gmail

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