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Google’s one of the best companies about adding features to their apps over time. The changes aren’t always welcome, of course, especially when they change things we like about their apps. Sometimes, though, it’s fun to be reminded of the best advantage of web apps: they can get new features without you ever having to install an update. When the new features improve your life, that’s very nice.

Today, Google added a new compose pane to Gmail that lets you compose emails in a floating pane much like the Gmail chat window. They also tweaked the research pane in Google Docs, a newer feature that makes it easy to research while you’re, say, writing an essay. Let’s take a look. (more…)

Enhance your Gmail with Attachments.me

Attachments are incredibly difficult to manage, especially in Gmail. Sure, you can use one of their custom search hack like has:attachment myfile.txt to locate a specific file or files with a particular extension. The problem is, Gmail seriously lacks content relevant search, like what you see on Google Images. Being a Gmail user since its inception, I’ve sent and received tens of thousands of emails, and at least a tenth of them have attachments. I don’t have to tell you how messy it would be if you’ve to open every other mail to find that one photo your girlfriend shared with you 5 years ago (True story!).

There should be a better way, I can hear you say. Oh! Yes, there is and that’s exactly what I’m going to show you today.

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Sometimes email and Facebook and Twitter and everything else isn’t enough. Sometimes, you need to send an SMS. For many of us, that sometimes is more often than we might think; no wonder unlimited SMS plans are still in vogue most places. When you send SMS messages that turn into a conversation, you can quickly send more messages than you even realize. And even though smartphones keep threatening to make SMS obsolete, the frank truth is that SMS is here to stay until everyone you ever txt has an internet connection on their phone and is using the same messaging app.

So you need to send an SMS, but pulling out your phone to txt while you’re sitting at your computer seems rather odd. Why not put the larger keyboard to use, and just send an SMS from your desktop? There’s a number of apps and sites that let you send free online SMS messages, but there’s one you likely already have open: Gmail. If you didn’t know you could send SMS messages right from Gmail, keep reading to see how you can sta in touch with everyone through Gmail, even if they don’t have email on their phones.

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Gmail’s still one of the most productivity-focused webmail apps on the ‘net, and its strong ecosystem of 3rd party add-ons and native Labs extras let it morph into exactly the online email tool you need. One popular feature that Gmail doesn’t include is email scheduling, and there’s several tools that have cropped up to do just that. When you need an email to arrive in your colleague’s inbox at a certain time, you can schedule it and make it seem like you sent it right then.

Right Inbox is a new tool for Gmail that makes scheduling emails absolutely seamless in your Gmail experience. It integrates so nicely, in fact, that it’s hard to remember it’s not just a built in feature. Keep reading to see more about it, and why it might be the email scheduling tool you’ve been looking for.

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Quick poll: Would you think of email as a productivity tool? Most of us use email all the time, from our phones and browsers and anything else imaginable, to stay on top of the loads of messages that bombard us daily. It’s a great communications tool, but hardly something that helps you stay more productive. A full screen writing too, a powerful to-do list app, a big red highlighter and a wall calendar might all count for tools that’ll boost your productivity, but email? Not hardly. It usually feels much more like a distraction.

What if email could instead be a tool that could keep you focused on what you need to do, when you need to do it? Perhaps it could bring you messages right when you want to deal with them, and let you write emails when you’re thinking about them but send them when they actually need to arrive in your colleagues’ inboxes. Maybe it could even automatically send those emails you have to send every so often, freeing up your time a bit.

That’s what Boomerang is. It’s a tool that turns Gmail into a productivity tool that makes email run on your own schedule. (more…)

Ever since Google killed off Google Gears, users were left without any way to access their Gmail accounts without internet. Google said they were ending Gears because they wanted to focus on implementing HTML5 to get a newer, more complete, and less plugin-based system for offline email.

Even though it’s been a long time in the making, Google’s finally kept their word: the Offline Gmail app is now available for free in the Chrome Web Store. Let’s check out what it’s like!

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Google’s never been known for the best design. They once lost a designer after one too many tests for the right shade of blue, among other oddities. But any sweeping change to their entire suite of web properties would surely be welcomed with open arms, right?

Not entirely. The design changes that were launched with Google+ have now rolled out to most of Google’s properties, and even less consumer-orientated sites like Adsense have seen a refresh. For the most part, the changes seem nice, but the new style in Google Docs, Gmail, and Google Reader have been the most controversial. Gmail’s new design has been well received for the most part, but the new label-less buttons seem unintuitive and downright un-googley (isn’t Google known for text over icons?). Google Reader sparked the most controversy, with a more confusing interface and less sharing features. Google Docs’ interface seems blander than before, but it’s still hands-down the best online office suite for most purposes.

Our recent article on the changes got a number of comments, with most readers agreeing that the new Gmail was mostly nice, but the new Google Reader was frustrating at best. Across the web, the sentiment has been mostly the same. So we’d love to know what you think. Do you like Google’s new design changes, or do you want the old Gmail and Google Reader back? Should Google try harder with design, or are they best with sticking with spartan text-driven interfaces?

I always want things to stay fresh, be it groceries I buy or the apps I download. So, whenever there is an update to software I use, I dutifully grab it with both hands. When it comes to web apps, I love Google for keeping things fresh and new. They launch new services and update existing ones at breakneck pace.

Recently, Google rolled out a newer look across the board to all its apps. And two of the flagship apps – Gmail and Reader – got the brand new look rolled out universally, last week. One was welcomed with cheers, while the other wasn’t. Turns out, consistant branding and useful UIs are as easy to roll out as pressing a button and giving all of your sites the same color schemes.

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Back in the day, you had to have a native email app to send and receive emails. Most of us kept growing offline archives of our emails, and if you ever lost a backup or hard drive, chances are you’d lose all of your emails for good. Syncing was mostly unheard of, and POP3 was state-of-the-art.

When Gmail first came out, its offer of 1Gb of online storage seemed too good to be true. Suddenly, you wouldn’t have to store all of your emails offline to keep from losing them. Plus, with its efficient interface, you could actually be productive in an email web app.

Mobile devices have brought us back to the start. Sure, you can use Gmail or your favorite email service in your mobile browser, but with spotty and slow cell connections, it usually works better to use a native email app. With Exchange ActiveSync and IMAP, you can keep all of your messages synced, so it really doesn’t matter how you access your mail.

That’s why we’re curious how you usually access your account. I personally use a mix of Mail.app in iOS and OS X, and Gmail.com in Chrome. I appreciate the convenience of being able to get the same mail in any app, but if I had to choose just one, I’d stick with Gmail over any one particular app. How about you? Is your email a cloud-powered native app, or do you email with a web app directly?

Google’s always had a minimalist design, one of the simplest designs on the web. And for the most visited website in the world, that’s provided a very user-friendly approach making searching somewhat of a breeze. The problem is, Google is no longer about search since, with the arrival of a plethora of additional services, that part of Google’s business has become so much less significant.

As Google has added new products, services and apps, they’ve featured their own unique interface so, while the main search page became refined, the other sites got left behind. However, Google has recently started a full, unified redesign process across their sites connecting them all up with similar design trends: a modern, minimalist red and white scheme.

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