After years of the same utilitarian, gray, and “meh” all around platform, the new Gmail update is giving the email service a new face. While functional, old Gmail lacks the efficiency and integration that's key to a good user experience. I went hands-on with the new features and discovered there was something worth pinging home about.
To get started, I transformed my inbox by clicking the cogwheel and selecting “try the new Gmail.” For review purposes, I went with the default layout.
At first glance, the new look is pretty pleasing to the eye. It’s colorful and most necessary tools are right in front of me. What immediately stands out is the new right-hand toolbar that includes my Calendar and Notes, with room for add-ons.
Right Hand Toolbar
Clicking on the calendar tab, my schedule pops up as opposed to opening a new tab. It's a cool feature if you're a heavy Google Notes and Calendars user because it could be helpful in scheduling appointments or discussing important matters over email. It’s definitely better than toggling to the app in a separate tab.
I was very interested in this feature but it’s not completely rolled out yet. In the Google announcement, the Confidential Mode option is positioned next to the insert picture and attachment tools.
Google says this addition is “useful for when you have to send sensitive information via email like a tax return or your social security number.” It's an invaluable feature in an age of rampant hacks and identity theft, so I look forward to the feature’s full availability
Promotion and Social Tabs
These categories are in the old Gmail, but were largely hidden in the sidebar. Now that they’re centerpieces, and I therefore know of their existence, these features seem OK if you have a lot of volume. The promotions tab seems much more useful than the social tab, but as someone that doesn't need to do mass mailings, I could take the features or leave them.
The Snooze button works pretty much the same it does on your alarm clock. If you want to take care of an email later, snooze it to have it reappear at a desired, programmed time where it shows with an orange snooze label. This could be useful if your inbox is chaotic, but I wouldn’t use it over simply checking the read status.
Though it seems like a small feature, I really like how few clicks I needed to open attachments. Clicking my “Kyoto Trip” attachment launched it in a new tab quickly and painlessly. It saved me about a second, but a second is a minute in internet time.
All in all, the new and improved Gmail is a nice step up from the old version. Though every new feature is not a “must have,” the user experience is much more streamlined and easy. Because of the integrated tools and improved attachment viewing, I won’t be switching back to the old version.