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?
Google Voice is popping up in more and more places these days, and the search giant is finding it increasingly difficult to avoid being labeled as a common carrier. Google on the other hand claims that since it doesn’t charge for the service, they should be exempted from the classification and all the onerous regulations that would apply. Analysts on the other hand are not so sure this justification will hold up, and new features such as Gmail integration and video calling are increasingly blurring the lines.
Google can get away with shenanigans such as blocking calls to rural areas since it is nothing more than a free service at the moment, but if the regulators get involved it could be an entirely different story. It would be interesting to see if Google maintains the same level of commitment if the laws end up turning against them, and they are forced to comply with the same rules as local phone carriers.
It's the vicious cycle of modern life. The more important and established you become, the more email clogs your inbox. Google is out to help with a new Gmail feature called Priority Inbox. This new interface, which will be rolling out to users in waves over the coming days, will present messages more likely to be important in a separate area at the top of the inbox.
Gmail decides what is important with a good old fashioned Google algorithm. Mail similar to that which you frequently read or respond to will be marked as important an promoted to the priority area. Users can alter this sorting process, and teach the Priority Inbox what's actually important by flagging mis-categorized items. This new inbox view also makes better use of the starred mail label by creating a starred mail area right below the Priority box.
The jury is still out on how effective and useful the new system is. We just got access to it ourselves, so it's hard to say how it will work out. As usual, Google has a cute animation explaining the feature, which you can catch at the source link. Have you had a chance to use Priority Inbox? How well is it working for you?
Google announced today that in the first 24 hours of availability, Gmail users placed over 1 million calls. That's very impressive considering many accounts still do not have access to the feature, which is being rolled out gradually. The new VoIP service allows US users to make calls to any number in the US or Canada. International rates are low as well. It just goes to show you what can happen if you integrate a new feature into Gmail.
This early success indicates that users are prepared to make real use of VoIP services. When Google added Buzz to Gmail, many decried the pollution of their sacred Gmail interface with all the Buzz information. If you get the notice that the Gmail call feature has been turned on for your account, you might as well try it. Everyone else is.