Email addresses are like phone numbers - who memorizes more than a handful these days? For years, cranking out a new email has begun with typing a few letters and clicking on the relevant contact that pops up (occasionally followed by frantic deleting and carefully selecting the correct contact). Soon Gmail users will have an even broader pool of names to select from, as Google+ connections will start to appear below saved contacts when typing out a recipient.
Google said it would do it, and now it has. The latest update to Android's Gmail app has enabled images automatically, now made safe because Google is serving up the images after hosting them on its own proxy servers. Users will no longer need to tap the "show pictures" message above the email content.
Left: old style. Right: 4.7.2.
We're looking through the application now to see if there are any more changes - this thing is so fresh that Google hasn't even updated the Play Store description.
You probably see that "Display images below" button in Gmail all the time on both mobile and desktop. This is the default behavior because it makes it harder for spammers and advertisers to track you. However, Google says it has prepared a workaround that mitigates the security concern and will allow it to show those images by default.
Last night, Google started a slow rollout of the new Maps with version 7.5. Since the previous version was 7.4, we knew there had to be some key features that prompted the update - it couldn't just be a bug fixer. After thoroughly examining the UI, I was unable to find anything new.
As it turns out, that's because the new feature Google stuffed into the app only shows up upon very specific conditions.
The most obvious new addition to Gmail 4.7 is the Vacation Responder. You can set start and end dates, enter a subject and some text, and check a toggle to only send the vacation response to your contacts.
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.