Gmail innovation


Jeremy doesn't see the big deal with Gmail. "Oooh, a whole gigabyte. Who cares?" he asks.

Do you honestly expect to see other large (and even mid-tier) web mail providers not increasing their offerings to match or surpass those of Gmail?

Without the competition from Gmail, why would they have? Isn't extra space what their users pay them money for?

So we've got threading (not new) plus virtual folders (not new) in a single mail interface. Well, stop the presses! It's amazing to think that no mail clients have offered this functionality in the last 5-7 years! Oh, wait. They have.

Really? Which popular mail client has these features? I haven't seen threading and the context functionality work nearly as well anywhere else. With my regular mail clients I've always been saving a lot of my mail (~3GB now), because yes -- occasionally I need to find something old. With I've been deleting more, knowing that I can find it in the trash for 30 days. How does Gmail change that? Read on ...

Three innovations in this area Gmail are doing:

  1. Saving is the default instead of deleting, so there's no need to think about it.
  2. When I get a new mail, the relevant archived mails are being pulled out as context. No need to search through the saved-mail folder and open up a bunch of mails to find it.
  3. The search sucks a bit less. Except for "find mails from this email address or with this subject", searching in most (all?) clients just royally sucks. I think it will be, but I haven't used Gmail enough to know if it's better. Of course I don't NEED the search as much because usually they are already pulling up the mails I want to search for for me!

Another notable new thing is how they've made the web browser feel like a normal application rather than a web page, for better or worse. I'm sure we'll see a lot more of that in the coming years.

Of course it's all evolutionary, but we don't see this much evolution in mail clients usually and being at least for me the application I spend most time in (after my text editor), it's sure very welcome! I'm looking very much forward to Apple integrating these ideas into the OS X mail program.

It sounds like Jeremy got an invitation to test it. Jeremly, load up Firefox and try it for a few days. :-)


I use mutt, which makes searching very easy once you understand the pattern language it uses. One thing I've always disliked about Google Search and Google Groups is that you cannot search for interpunction. I wonder how Gmail deals with a search for .

Re making the web browser feel like a normal application: Tobit has groupware software that features remote access through a browser. At first I wouldn't believe it was really just HTML.

How is security with Gmail? Does it suggest password reminders that are easy to guess (like Hotmail does)? What can you do if you lost your password (do they just reset, mail to alternate address, let you fax)? Does it have any support for signed or encoded email?

Yeah, I agree -- GMail has taken some great steps towards usability. The approach of saving all mail for searches, effective threading, and an ability to discover a mail's entire past context in one click, is a *big* improvement.

Just to blow my own trumpet ;) -- I suggested these to the Evolution team back in 2000 -- cf -- but they didn't implement that one, unfortunately. pity. However I am now looking forward to more UAs taking those cues now that GMail is doing it.

"All mail clients suck. This one just sucks less." :-)

Ximian Evolution has had virtual folders forever.

hello please invite me for gmail


please invite me

Plase, innvite me for gmail.

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This page contains a single entry by Ask Bjørn Hansen published on April 17, 2004 1:46 AM.

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