Yesterday saw a host of new features released into the full version of GMail and Google Calendar.
If you use GMail you may or may not be aware of Labs. You can access Labs (if your administrator has given you access) in your GMail settings page. Labs is a series of over 50 features that are not quite ready for mainstream but can provide great additional functionality.
It enables Google to test out new features, iron out any kinks, and get feedback from the community on what is popular and should be developed further, and what doesn’t fly and should be retired.
Yesterday three GMail Labs made it into the limelight and were promoted to the full version, alongside some great new features for Google Calendar.
This was a Lab I hadn’t deployed yet and so I enjoyed testing it out yesterday. You’ve always been able to Star a conversation and in conjunction with Priority Inbox keep it in full view until you’ve dealt with it.
Superstars gives you access to 12 possible icons, and you can choose which of those to be available. Once you’ve made your selection you just cycle through them in your inbox to Star up your messages. You might have one for Follow-Up, one for re-read and one for forwarding perhaps.
Labels rock. The ability to label a conversation with multiple labels is a real time saver for me. I shudder when I think back to the folder structure in Outlook and trying to remember where I put an email 6 months earlier. But once you’ve been using GMail for a while your list of Labels can become quite extensive. Nested Labels gives you the ability to create a hierarchy of labels, asking you for any new labels whether you want to ‘nest’ it under an existing one.
Google Calendar also received a couple of neat additions yesterday, and a great example of how Google is business led, and not just a technology solution.
You can now change the default length of your meeting – so if you spend a lot of time in short 15 minute meetings then set this as the default. It saves you precious time whenever you schedule a new meeting.
You can also enable “Speedy Meetings”. If you are constantly booking back to back meetings, then Speedy Meetings will auto-shorten 30 minute meetings to 25 minutes, 60 minute meetings to 50 minutes and so on, giving you precious time to prepare for your next meeting. For me I love what Speedy Meetings says about Google Apps. It says that they have a sense of humour, it says that they are thinking about users and not just technology. It says that crazy ideas get into production. I love that and can’t wait to see what else comes out the pipeline.
If you are a Google Apps user, or are considering using Google Apps, then I would recommend subscribing to the Google Apps update blog. It gives you a great insight into the pace of development from this team and helps ensure you and your team are using the new features that get released each week.
I hope you have enjoyed this post, I appreciate any comments or questions you have.