Gmail now knows who you want to e-mail

Google’s Gmail Labs has just rolled out a useful, but mildly creepy feature that gives you suggestions on who you should e-mail based on previous conversations. So, if you’ve had threads going with a group of people, it will recommend some of those folks once you’ve added at least two addresses in the recipients field. Best part is, they don’t even have to be in a group of contacts you’ve created in Gmail’s contacts manager.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Discovering the Power of Twitter’s Real-Time Search

A-ha moments often come when the conventional method lets you down and you need to try something new. That happened on Saturday when Gmail was unavailable to me for over an hour. The outage was long enough for me to have to set up a Yahoo Mail account to send an urgent email. I also used Basecamp to communicate with my ReadWriteWeb colleagues; through that, I learned that Gmail was fine for them. So I started my research online to see what was happening. Of course I started my search with Google, which was not of much use. Then I tried Twitter. Continue reading

Salesforce.com Integrates Twitter

When Gmail failed a few months ago, I tried using Google to find out what was going on. When that did not get me an answer, I tried Twitter and did find some answers. That alerted me to the power of real-time search in one specific usage case. It was a relatively minor problem for me. But what if I ran customer service for a SaaS firm that just had a major outage? How would I find and monitor the conversations going on out there? That is what today’s announcement by Salesforce.com about Twitter integration is all about. Continue reading

OtherInbox: Organize Your Non-Critical Email For Free

                                          

Joshua Baer (@joshuabaer), founder of OtherInbox, was nice enough to sit down with us this weekend at SXSW Interactive and go over what’s new with his company’s product. OtherInbox was developed out of a need to intelligently manage the rest of your mail. That is to say, the mail that you might get from mailing lists, shopping sites, and other services but may not actually be from another human. We all get this mail, and to a greater or lesser extent have developed strategies to manage it, but OtherInbox provides a comprehensive and stylish solution. The big news is that the core service is now free of cost.

The basic premise of OtherInbox (or OIB) is that it will identify and organize all the mail that you wouldn’t categorize as critical to read right away, such as receipts, subscription updates, mailing list emails, and so on. For those people who have a single Gmail account (currently OtherInbox only works with Gmail or IMAP accounts) this would represent a drop-in solution to moving all the clutter mail out of the immediate inbox, but keeping it available in case you want to peruse any of it later.

OtherInbox attempts to have as light a touch as possible when it comes to your Gmail account. Mainly, all you will see after it has done its initial pass through your mail is a new otherinbox label that you can use to archive or delete that mail. If you happen to have more than one incoming email address pointing to Gmail, OtherInbox will also automatically create labels for them as well.

Once in your OIB mailbox, the story is different. Here, all the mail that you agreed that OIB could import is listed by category (or what OIB calls mailboxes), which you can quickly step through and perform mass actions on, such as marking as read or deleting. The mailboxes can be created manually (there is a new mailbox button at the bottom of the page) or automatically, simply by sending email directly to your custom OtherInbox email domain directly. For example, if your OIB account name was johndoe, you could fill out an online form for some free stuff with the email address freestuff@johndoe.otherinbox.com. This would create the new mailbox freestuff in your OIB inbox containing any mail that is sent to you from that site. If a spammer gets ahold of that address, simply click on the block mailbox button and you will never see any email in that mailbox again.

We have been using OIB for a few days now, just trying to get a feel for the product as a whole. Some folks may only be interested in using the service primarily for its disposable email address ability, but we think that OIB is looking further and is trying to become the primary repository for all your other mail. You know — the stuff you don’t want but can’t quite get rid of. To that end, OIB is also planning to support other online mail services such as Yahoo! Mail.

Finally we should mention that the free service, while offering everything that OtherInbox features without limitation, is restricted to only showing the last 30 days of email that has been introduced into your OIB account. If you stay on top of your OtherInbox mail, this should be no problem. However, if you do want to see everything, you can sign up for the premium service for $19.99 a year.

by Phil Glockner

Take it back: Gmail gets ‘Undo Send’ Labs feature

Adding to its arsenal of features that can save you from yourself, Google is launching a Gmail Labs feature called “Undo Send,” that lets you abort the sending of any Gmail message–if you use it within five seconds.

undo_send

Other user-preservation features already available include Gmail’s capability to watch for words like “attached” in the body of an e-mail and to alert you if there are no attachments to the message; and a feature in Google Apps (the corporate version of Gmail) that puts orange borders around the names of e-mail recipients that are not inside your company–to alert you to not send confidential information where you shouldn’t.

Also, last year Google launched the “Mail Goggles” Labs feature that prevents you from sending e-mails during the small hours of the morning unless you pass a simple math test. It’s designed to prevent drunk e-mailing.

Undo Send is a much smarter feature. We’ve all regretted pressing “send” on e-mails. Sometimes we realize, too late, that our message is a “reply all” when it shouldn’t be. Or that we spelled something wrong. Or that we were angry and shouldn’t have sent it at all. Undo Send lets you snatch an e-mail back before it gets sent out. But you have to act fast.

Google product manager Keith Coleman told me that internal testing of the feature, which was created by a Google engineer in Japan as a side project, indicated that five seconds was an appropriate compromise between the ability to recall an errant message and the need to not introduce lag to e-mail conversations. “Adding a delay could be potentially frustrating,” Coleman said. I’m not sure the rest of the world is as agile with the mouse as Google’s internal testers, but Coleman also told me there’s an option to increase the un-send time window to 10 seconds. “We may decide to add longer options,” he said.

I’m one person who’d like the option to introduce a longer waiting period, or an “outbox” where queued messages reside for a minute or two before being sent. This is what I do with my desktop e-mail client, Outlook, and Gmail users can get a similar function if they switch to offline mode before they start composing messages. But for most users, who run Gmail in online mode, Undo Send is a good emergency valve.

To activate the Undo Send option, click on “Settings” in Gmail and then the “Labs” tab.

Read more on the Official GMail blog.

by Rafe Needleman