In 1874 the QWERTY keyboard was invented. In 1963, the world was introduced to the mouse. Some 50 years later, we’ve seen the advent of microprocessors, high resolution webcams, and spatial tracking technology. But all the while we’ve continued to use outdated technology to interact with devices. Why?
This is a question that we’ve been thinking about a lot at Google, and we’re excited to introduce our first attempts at next generation human computer interaction: Gmail Motion. Gmail Motion allows you to control Gmail — composing and replying to messages — using your body.
To use Gmail Motion, you’ll need a computer with a built-in webcam. Once you enable Gmail Motion from the Settings page, Gmail will enable your webcam when you sign in and automatically recognize any one of the detected movements via a spatial tracking algorithm. We designed the movements to be easy and intuitive to perform and consulted with top experts in kinestetics and body movement in devising them.
We’ve been testing Gmail Motion with Googlers over the last few months and have been really excited about the feedback we’ve been hearing. We’ve also done some internal tests to measure productivity improvements and found an average 14% increase in email composition speed and 12% reduction in average time in inbox. With Gmail Motion, Googlers were able to get more done and get in and out of their inboxes more quickly.
To use Gmail Motion, you’ll need the latest version of Google Chrome or Firefox 3.5+ and a built-in webcam. If it’s not already enabled on your account, sit tight — we’ll be making it available to everyone over the next day or so.
For more information, visit gmail.com/motion.
Official Gmail Blog: Introducing Gmail Motion
Posted at GMAIL Blog
Today we announced some of the updates we’ve released recently to make Google’s applications more accessible to the blind community. Google Calendar now has new keyboard shortcuts and better screen reader support for our blind users. Members of the blind community can now use JAWS, VoiceOver and ChromeVox to manage your calendars, create and edit events or simply browse your events. Here are a few examples of how screen readers and keyboard shortcuts work with Google Calendar:
- In your calendar lists, you can use the up and down arrow keys to navigate between your calendars. For each calendar in the list, you’ll hear its name and can use the spacebar to turn the calendar on or off. To remove a calendar from the list, use the delete key.
- In the agenda view, you can use the up and down arrow keys to move between events and use the left and right arrow keys to move between dates. To expand an event and expose the event details, press enter. To go to the event details page, type ‘e’. To remove an event, press delete. Although agenda view provides the best screen reader experience today, we are also working on improved accessibility for other views.
- In the guest list on the create/edit event page, you can navigate around using the up and down arrow keys. Use the spacebar to switch a guest's status between optional and required. To remove a guest from the list, use the delete key.
- Additional keyboard shortcuts make it easier to use Google Calendar no matter which view or screen you’re on. Type ‘c’ to create an event, ‘/’ to start a search, and ‘+’ to add a calendar.
Posted at GMAIL Official Blog
(Cross-posted on the Google Enterprise Blog)
The great thing about web apps is that you can access all of your information on the go, and we’ve introduced ways to use Google Apps on a variety of devices like mobile phones and tablets. But it’s inevitable that you’ll occasionally find yourself in situations when you don’t have an Internet connection, like planes, trains and carpools. When we announced Chromebooks at Google I/O 2011, we talked about bringing offline access to our web apps, and now we’re taking our first steps in that direction. Gmail offline will be available today, and offline for Google Calendar and Google Docs will be rolling out over the next week, starting today.
Gmail Offline is a Chrome Web Store app that’s intended for situations when you need to read, respond to, organize and archive email without an internet connection. This HTML5-powered app is based on the Gmail web app for tablets, which was built to function with or without web access. After you install the Gmail Offline app from the Chrome Web Store, you can continue using Gmail when you lose your connection by clicking the Gmail Offline icon on Chrome’s “new tab” page.
Google Calendar and Google Docs let you seamlessly transition between on- and offline modes. When you’re offline in Google Calendar, you can view events from your calendars and RSVP to appointments. With Google Docs you can view documents and spreadsheets when you don’t have a connection. Offline editing isn’t ready yet, but we know it’s important to many of you, and we’re working hard to make it a reality. To get started using Google Calendar or Google Docs offline, just click the gear icon at the top right corner of the web app and select the option for offline access.
IT administrators can deploy Chrome Web Store apps to users en masse by setting up organizational policies for Chrome.
Today’s world doesn’t slow down when you’re offline and it’s a great feeling to be productive from anywhere, on any device, at any time. We’re pushing the boundaries of modern browsers to make this possible, and while we hope that many users will already find today’s offline functionality useful, this is only the beginning. Support for offline document editing and customizing the amount of email to be synchronized will be coming in the future. We also look forward to making offline access more widely available when other browsers support advanced functionality (like background pages).
Posted at Official GMAIL Blog
In this month’s Faces of Gmail we’ll introduce you to Brandon Long, a parent, ice-hockey player and science fiction fan who makes sure your emails get sent and received.
What do you do on the Gmail team?
I’m the Tech Lead Manager of the Gmail delivery team. Our team is responsible for sending and receiving email for Gmail and many other Google projects. We’re also responsible for the IMAP & POP support for Gmail, which is the most popular way to access Gmail on mobile devices.
What did you do before joining Google?
I founded Neotonic Software which wrote a web application for email customer support. Before that, I worked at eGroups, which was acquired by Yahoo! and is now Yahoo!Groups.
What’s your typical day like?
My typical day involves catching up on email from our teams in other timezones (Google Engineering never sleeps). I also stay on top of escalations from our support team, keep abreast of the running service with our SREs (Site Reliability Engineers), and make sure my team doesn’t have any blockages. Finally, I still manage to keep my hands in the codebase, working as part of the team. When I have some extra time, I take a peek in the Gmail help forum to see if there’s anything brewing or any help I can offer.
What do you like most about what you do?
Scale and ubiquity. Everyone knows about Gmail, many people I know use it. The volume of messages we deal with on a daily basis is pretty staggering, and it’s pretty complicated to keep the whole thing working and continuing to scale.
What are the three Gmail features you wouldn’t be able to live without?
SMTP, IMAP, and keyboard shortcuts. I get thousands of messages a day to my work account, and keyboard shortcuts make all of the difference in handling the volume.
What’s your favorite lab?
Green Robot. I’m an Android fan, and I like to see which of my friends are fans as well.
What do you do when you’re not working on Gmail?
I’m a father of two young children, and I play ice hockey in the local beer league.
Any favorite TV shows?
Burn Notice, The Daily Show, Top Chef, Top Gear
What’s on your reading list?
Switching to the Kindle for reading has allowed me to subscribe to magazines I gave up reading a long time ago. For example, after 15 years I’m back to reading Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine. I find it very convenient to read the short stories during my commute.
What would your last meal be?
Does one go with comfort food or with amazing? For comfort, nothing beats Chicago-style Pizza. In SF, that means Patxi’s. In Chicago, that means Lou Malnati’s or Gino’s East. For amazing, I’m not a foodie myself, but I have enough foodie friends to have been introduced to some meals both amazing and ridiculous. And besides, if it’s going to be my last meal, why not a 25 course gastronomic event taking six hours or more? The last place we tried was e by José Andrés, and it was fabulous.
Photos by Cody Bratt, Google Talk team
Posted at Official GMAIL Blog
Stars are handy for marking important messages, but how do you mark really important messages? That’s where Gmail’s additional stars options can come in handy.
I like to use purple stars to mark important messages from my family, red exclamation points for messages that need my immediate attention, and a green check mark for messages that I’ve already taken care of but want to keep track of (ok, so we’re using the word “star” loosely here). This way your inbox can become like a to-do list.
Now that Superstars has graduated from Gmail Labs, it easy to incorporate these different stars into your workflow. Go to the General tab in Settings, then scroll down to the “Stars” section:
Here you can select which stars you want to use, and in which order you want to them to cycle through when you click the star icon in your inbox. Simply click and drag the stars to the appropriate spot in the lists.
If you want to have all your starred messages show up at the top of your inbox so you see them right away, try out the Starred first inbox style.
You can also find messages with specific stars by using the following queries in your search box:
Want more tips? Make sure to follow Gmail on Twitter to see our weekly #tuesdaytip, or follow our community manager Sarah Price on Google+.