No matter whether you're working far from home or cozied up to your desktop PC, the ubiquitous nature of services like AOL Mail, GMX or Hotmail means that so long as you’ve got an internet connection, you’ll never be out of touch with everyone you care about. Of the many webmail services available today, few are more popular than Google’s Gmail. Easy to use and boasting integration with Google’s full range of online offerings, Gmail is nothing but win. To harvest more of that winning Gmail feeling, we recommend taking a look at Send From My Gmail, our Extension of the Week.
Imagine if Google one day up and decided to call it quits, turning off its servers and getting out of the online game altogether. Kind of a scary thought when you consider just how dependent we've become on Google's services, from search to word processing, and especially to Gmail. We don't foresee the fat cats at Google ever making such a drastic decision, but it is pause for thought for around 150,000 Gmail account holders who woke up this morning to find that their email, attachments, and Google Chat logs had vanished. What the Gmail happened?
We're not sure, and neither is Google. According to Google's Apps Status Dashboard, the search giant first noticed the glitch late afternoon Sunday. By 4:20 PM, Google was reporting that "the issue affects less than 0.29 percent of the Google Mail users," a number that was reduced to 0.08 percent by 10:40 PM. A day later and Google still doesn't seem to know exactly what's going on, or at least isn't willing to share just yet.
"Our team is continuing to investigate this issue. We will provide an update by February 28, 2011 10:10:00 AM UTC-5 with more information about this problem. Thank you for your patience," the latest entry in Google's Apps Status Dashboard reads. The same message has been repeated four times this morning, with only the time of the next update being changed.
Google has announced today that the 2-step authentication system that was rolled out for Apps users a few months back is going to be available to everyone soon. This system will dramatically increase your account security to hopefully alleviate the risk that your account could be hacked, or your password phished. The set up process will only take about 15 minutes, and makes use of your mobile phone.
Google isn't messing around when it comes to uptime. In a recent blog post, the search titan vowed to make email as reliable as a phone's dial tone, which translates to getting Google Appls to 99.99 percent reliable.
"Unlike most providers, we don't plan for our users to be down, even when we're upgrading our services or maintaining our systems," Google said. "For that reason, we're removing the [Google Apps] SLA (service level agreement) clause that allows for scheduled downtime. Going forward, all downtime will be counted and applied towards the customer's SLA. We are the first major cloud provider to eliminate maintenance windows from their service level agreement.
"We're also amending our SLA so that any intermittent downtime is counted. Previously, a period of less than ten minutes was not included."
These are lofty goals for Google, but are they unreasonable? According to Google, its Gmail service was available 99.984 percent of the time in 2010, both on the consumer and business side. That translates to 7 minutes of downtime per month, which is the accumulation of smalle delays, usually no more than a few seconds, Google says.
Google is offering a nice little holiday gift to Us users of Gmail today. You may remember a few months ago when Google rolled out voice calls in Gmail. At the time, they decided to make all Gmail calls to the US and Canada free through the end of 2010. Now that we're reaching the end of the year, Google has seen fit to extend the free calls at least through the end of 2011.
Users can take advantage of this system in their Gmail inbox. The contact list on the left will have a Call Phone option. This brings up a familiar dial pad. If you have a Google Voice number, this will tie in with that service. We've been pleasantly surprised how well this feature works, so there's no reason not to give it a shot since you're guaranteed another year of free calls.
Google has today rolled out the newest update to the Android Gmail client and it's a big one for fans of the Priority Inbox feature on the desktop. Now when viewing the inbox, users will see the familiar yellow arrows to let them know which messages are important according to Gmail. Users can also view just Priority Inbox items by tapping the label link, then choosing Priority Inbox.
Google has added the ability to control what mail is, and is not, marked Important on the phone. You used to need to use the web interface to do this. Now simply tap the checkbox for a message, then use the menu option to toggle its "importance" status. In the settings, the app can be set to notify via sound or vibrate only on new important messages. This could be great for those that get a lot of mail.
Google also added some more options to the composing process. You can switch between reply, reply all, and forward while composing. There is also a new option to configure the from address in replies if the mail was forwarded from another address. This updated app is available in the Android Market, but only for users of Android 2.2 Froyo and higher. If you have a compatible phone, let us know how you like it.
Facebook and Google don’t see eye to eye on data reciprocity. The world’s leading social network has ignored demands for third-party access to user contact information. Not only did it ignore Google’s entreaties for data reciprocity but angered the internet giant further by finding a way around a recent move that only provides reciprocal access to Google Contacts API. The workaround prompted a sharp reaction from Google.
While Facebook has yet to allow third-party access to user contact info, it has now removed Gmail from the list of email services on its “Find Your Friends” page. Also gone is the Gmail contact import button from FB-owned Friendfeed. According to TechCrunch, new FB users who sign up with their Gmail accounts still see the option to import their Google contacts only to be denied by an error message. The same applies to users trying to add Gmail contacts through the “Other email service” option.
The integration between Gmail and Google voice has been ongoing since August, but one of our favorite features finally seems to be rolling across the board, call recording. This feature has been around for some time now, but unless you knew to hit “4” during the call you probably had no idea it was even possible. The familiar record icon in the lower right corner on the other hand is much more intuitive.
The feature still works the same as before, inbound calls only and both parties are notified that recording has been activated. There also seems to be an arbitrary limitation in place that prevents the recording of calls that bypass Google Voice by going from one Gmail contact from the other, but I’m guessing that will be fixed in time.
Has the feature gone live for you? Anyone out there using it?
Around six months after it added the drag-and-drop feature to Gmail, Google has now introduced the feature to its web-based productivity suite, giving Google Docs users yet another way of adding images to their documents. The HTML5-driven feature is currently only supported by the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
“Google documents already has three ways to add images: you can choose them from your hard-drive, add them by URL, and you can find them using Google Image Search,” Philipp Weis, a software engineering intern at Google, wrote in a blog post.
“But sometimes the exact image you need is on your desktop and you just want to add it to your document quickly. Starting today, you can drag images from your desktop directly into your documents.”
The drag-and-drop feature is a legacy of the company’s ill-fated collaboration tool Wave.
When Gmail launched, it brought a new way of organizing emails that saved space and made many users quite happy. Of course we're referring to the Conversation View. Gmail groups all messages in a particular reply thread together under a single heading. While the majority of users have been happy with the system, a small, but vocal, minority have been looking for a way to disable it. Now Google is obliging with a new feature addition.
Users that want to ditch the Conversation view and go back to the traditional way of showing emails (i.e. each message gets its own entry), can do so. In the main Gmail settings page, There is a new section called "Conversation View". There is a simple toggle for turning this on and off. Some feel that it is easier to find specific emails without the Conversations enabled. If you fall into that camp, look for the option to roll out to your account in the next day or two.
While most users might be perfectly happy with the way Gmail works, we want to know what you think. Will you leave Conversations on, or turn it off?