At this point in my life, a solid 70% of everything I've ever said resides on Google's servers somewhere. If the company were to ever close its doors, those words would be lost to history. But that's about to change. Google's rolling out the ability to easily download a copy of your Gmail and Calendar data, so you can migrate it to another service when the unthinkable - or the inevitable - happens.
When we dug into the updated Gmail app in the APK Teardown a few days ago, there was clear evidence of a system for displaying ads in the Promotions folder much like desktop Gmail. It didn't take Google long to start implementing them either – the first users are seeing ads right now.
Now that the insane week of Google app updates has passed (gotta love those Rollout Wednesdays, right?), I've had some time to dig into the APKs and have found a number of interesting things in some of them.
We'll start with Gmail, which received a fairly significant Card UI update with version 4.6.
Ads are coming to Gmail
The most significant under-the-hood and probably not active yet addition to Gmail 4.6 is ads.
Cards, cards everywhere, but not a drop to drink. Or something like that.
That seems to be Google's mantra these days, as everything is getting card-ified. Not to say that's a bad thing, because cards are clean, simple, and effective. All three of those things have been a clear goal in Android in the Duarte era, so it makes sense that cards have been so widely adopted.
Today, it's Gmail's turn.
Lets face it, email just isn't sexy. The Gmail app has done a lot to pretty things up, adding in fancy swiping gestures and associating pictures with each contact, but the experience is still somewhat clunky. There are alternatives, such as the stock Android app (pretty basic), K-9 Mail (the kitchen-sink approach) and Dextr (innovative, but very limited) - but all have their drawbacks. Evomail is the latest kid on the block, and it hopes to make managing email a task you actually want to do.
There's nothing as satisfying as permanently deleting that annoying email. Well, that's not true, there are a lot of things more satisfying than that, like hugging your children, eating a good steak, and landing a headshot on that jerk who's been camping the spawn. But if you've been craving that small, petty, satisfying feeling of quickly deleting hundreds of emails, Google's got your back. The 4.5.2 version of the Gmail app makes the Delete button the default setting after you long-press a message (in the last major revision it was previously set to Archive).
For those who don't know the pure magic of Boomerang for Gmail, click here. The service has been around for Chrome and Firefox for quite a while now, and it's great. Basically, Boomerang allows users to schedule messages to send at a predetermined date and time, or "boomerang" them back into their inbox if there's no reply or if a message requires follow-up.
Today, Boomerang for Gmail is unleashing Boomerang for Android – a full Gmail client that packs in all the features you love about Boomerang.
Perhaps the most time-saving key on the Android keyboard is the microphone, but using it is more hassle than it's worth when certain words just refuse to be recognized. More often than not, these words are contact names. Luckily, there is a way to trick your phone into recognizing even the most tongue-twisting of names. If you're tired of your phone turning "Demonte Jones" into "Demon's bones," just teach it to recognize the latter as the former.
Every few months, Google experiments with a new design, widget, or pattern by injecting it into one of its most important apps. Preceding I/O 2013, we were treated to a steady stream of updates including the new Navigation Drawer. As we have seen, the latest GMail app joined the herd, but also gained a tweaked version of the now common pull-to-refresh gesture. While Google was kind enough to supply us with a library for the Navigation Drawer, anybody hoping to add the newly-stylized refresh is left to fend for themselves.
Gmail 4.5 started rolling out today to Android devices (have you installed your update yet?), and immediately some of you noticed that it has definitely shuffled some things around. The bottom bar moved up top, the navigation is now on the left, and the multi-select checkboxes are gone. Don't worry, though - multi-select functionality hasn't disappeared. In fact, it's still very easy to use.