Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gmail adds new features

Gmail’s "What’s New" page has changed and tells us of a new feature that will be launched shortly — Gmail Pictures. The new feature basically lets you see who has emailed you — almost like an avatar in instant messengers.

The new feature won’t be available for all users at once, it will be rolled out slowly just like the chat feature did.

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New to Gmail Labs: Time zones and images Image 1

Google has added two new features to Gmail by way of the Gmail Labs, bringing the total number of experimental features available to 46.

Making its way into Gmail Labs first, which Google introduces with an "it's about time" is the ability to add images to an email message. After enabling the labs option, a new button will appear in the compose window providing that you are sending your message in rich text. Messages will now appear inline rather than simple attachments, improving the mail experience for some and giving Gmail a feature that has long been available in other mail clients.

The next addition to Gmail Labs is a sender time zone feature, which will attempt to determine what time zone a person is in, and display a "ok to call" indicator if it is between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm in their time zone. Google figures the sender is most likely to be awake and reachable during this period of time. Additionally, the message details will now display what time the message was sent in the senders time zone, as well as their current time.

Gmail's New 'Undo Send' Feature Saves You From Outbox Regret

A new feature for Gmail aims to rid your life of that classic "Oh Shit" e-mail moment.

"Undo Send" puts a five to 10-second hold on all outgoing messages. If you addressed an e-mail to the wrong person, let slip with an embarrassing typo or simply said something you really, really shouldn't have, Undo Send can be a lifesaver. Or, more accurately, a job-saver.

As with most enhancements to Google's free webmail app, Gmail users can enable the new Undo Send feature by going into their Labs settings and turning it on -- click on the little green flask at the top of the screen, or go to Settings and click on the Labs tab. Gmail users can usually access new features shortly after they're announced, but the features take time to roll out across all accounts, so be patient if it doesn't show up right away.

Turn it on and every time you send an e-mail, you'll see an Undo link at the end of the confirmation message that appears at the top of your inbox.

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Do nothing and the e-mail goes out. Click Undo and you get dumped back into Compose mode.

The default setting is five seconds, but the Gmail Labs folks tell us you can dial it up to 10 if you wish. In my testing, I only saw options for "5" and "0" seconds in the drop-down list.

Update: A Labs representative confirms that Undo Send only gives you the 5-second option for now. The 10 second option is coming in a future update. And the 0 seconds option is actually just a way to turn it off without disabling the feature.

Undo Send cannot pull back any e-mail that has already gone out. But a 5-second window should catch most embarrassments. So, between Undo Send and Mail Goggles, you now have no excuse for making an ass of yourself.

Some proprietary internal e-mail systems like QuickMail have had this feature for years, but those were built for managed intranets that used outbox queues. This Gmail Labs addition is a first for web-based mail services.

Check out a post on the official Gmail blog by Google User Experience Designer Michael Leggett for more information.

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