Gmail Undo Send Plus 3 More Improvements We Need - InformationWeek
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6/24/2015
08:10 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Gmail Undo Send Plus 3 More Improvements We Need

The "Undo Send" feature in Gmail graduated from beta status on June 23. That's nice, but here are three features that business users really need from Google's email service.

10 Astonishing Email Habits
10 Astonishing Email Habits
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Back in 2009, Google introduced an experimental feature in Gmail called Undo Send. It was available within Gmail Labs, where Google tests potential features before releasing them to everyone. Well, after six years in beta status Undo Send is finally ready for prime time.

Undo Send lets Gmail users cancel emails in the first few seconds after they press the Send button. The idea is to save people from embarrassment if they suddenly spot a typo, or change their mind about the content of the message. Undo Send originally gave people just five seconds to decide if they wanted to unsend or not, but eventually that was expanded to ten seconds.

Users can adjust the timeframe up to 30 seconds if they wish.

Google has moved Undo Send from Gmail Labs to the main setting page, and now anyone can use it. The feature is also available to users of Google's Inbox email app. Undo Send is turned off by default for those not already using it in Gmail Labs.

(Image: DanielBendjy/iStockphoto)

(Image: DanielBendjy/iStockphoto)

There's no doubt this is a handy feature that has surely saved people from negative outcomes.

[See what you missed at Google I/O this year.]

Gmail, as great as it is, is far from perfect. Here are a few suggested features for business users that might be good additions to Google's email service:

  • Improved subject handling. One of Gmail's biggest strengths is how it handles email conversations. Emails that all respond to the same subject are threaded into a single chain of messages. This helps people see the progress of the conversation as it unfolds. Sometimes, however, you want to reply to all and change the subject. As Gmail is today, this takes several steps and is somewhat hidden. Google could make it easier. Moreover, changing the subject currently breaks the email thread and launches a new one. There's definitely room for improvement here.
  • Contacts integration. Google Contacts, which is part of Gmail, has come a long way over the years. Google recently updated Google Contacts on the Web with its material design. The new version is sleeker and easier to use, but it still doesn't play well with Gmail. For example, it is not easy to create a new contact by clicking on the email address of an email sender. This is something Outlook has been able to do for years. As Gmail works today, you need to toggle a drop-down menu from the sidebar to create new contacts from emails. It could be more obvious.
  • Google Docs editor. It's fairly easy to open documents from Gmail and edit them in Google Docs. In order to do so, however, you have to add the document to your Google Drive folder, edit the document there, and then re-attach the document to a new email if you want to send it back. It would be very helpful to have a simple document editor built right into Gmail so people could make small documents edits without leaving Gmail.

What would you like to see added to Gmail? Please feel free to add your own suggestions below.

Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio
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zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
6/24/2015 | 8:05:56 PM
Re: Gmail Undo Send Plus 3 More Improvements We Need
Thanks for sharing the news on Undo Send, Eric - I doubt I would have noticed otherwise. I can certainly think of a handful of times where I would have loved to have had this feature. I went ahead and enabled some of the current "lab" features as well while I was at it - there are some nice ones in there, including a 'mark as read' button that doesn't require a drop-down menu (which I've been mystified at the exclusion of since I started using Gmail), and improved Google Calendar and Google Maps integration (no Docs, though). If anyone wants to try these out, just go to 'Settings > Labs' in Gmail and you'll see a list features to enable. They do come with a disclaimer from Google that they may stop working or disappear at any time, though. 

I, too, have always been a little puzzled about how my Gmail contacts list actually works. I notice contacts from Craigslist Ads that I responded to once and only once years ago on there that I know I didn't add myself, but people that I've corresponded with dozens of times are absent or seem to dissapear. I tend to leave it alone, but you're right, Google could definitely get some more value out of it by making it more user-friendly. To be honest, I'm continuously amazed at how well Docs, Drive, and Gmail work together - I  feel like looking a gift horse in the mouth asking for improvements, considering it's all free (maybe Google should consider some more premium offerings for enterprises to compete with Amazon's Workmail). Of course, then I remember that I'm the product, so it all works out. Bring on the new features!
BillP652
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BillP652,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/24/2015 | 6:40:09 PM
Not overly pleased with Gmail
Yes, I agree with the author on all of his points.

I think Gmail is really a third class, maybe even 4th or 5th class email program compared to Outlook.  I don't think a lot of people would start using it if it wasn't a Google product.  They assume it should be a well written program.  By the time they get all of their contacts loaded and have spent some time learning it, they just stay with it because they don't want to start all over with something else.

You can't add words to the dictionary.  I don't know whose dictionary they're using, but it's very limited.  How many people try to compose emails with words specific to their industry and the spell checker can't identify them?

It's difficult to cut and paste into it.

There's no word or phrase change function.

Formating is limited.

Total lack of documentation.

 

Bill

 
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