Category Archives: Gmail

Gmail Tries to Tackle Inbox Clutter with Tabs

AOL isn’t exactly a hotbed for innovation, but its Alto mail did introduce a few neat concepts. The chief among them is the idea of stacks and automatic categorization. Unfortunately, Alto also had too many inconveniences to ever become a mainstream product. However, the good news is that Google is taking a leaf out of Alto’s book. Yes, Gmail is taking inspiration from an AOL email product.
Gmail-Tabbed-Inbox-Desktop

Google has annoucned a new tabbed inbox for Gmail that builds on the automatic categorization concept featured in Alto to reduce your inbox clutter. Gmail already has Priority Inbox, which surfaces mails that matter to you. Now, it will be grouping mails further, depending upon its source of origination. For example, one can tuck away all notifications from Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn under the Social category. Similarly mails from Groupon and its likes can be put under the Promotions category. You can setup custom categories and customize how you want your mails to be categorized.

Gmail-Tabbed-Inbox-Android-iPhone

Google will also be updating its Android and iOS apps (for iPhone and iPad) to add support for a categorized inbox. You will see your uncategorized mail by default when you open the Gmail app. You’ll be able to navigate to your categories from the left menu, as shown in the above screenshot. The updated Gmail app will be released within a few weeks, while the desktop version will be rolled out gradually.

Google Launches New Compose in Gmail

A new feature has been introduced in Gmail that gives the ability to compose new emails in a pop-up window that appears at the bottom-right of the screen rather than opening the compose email page. Google’s Phil Sharp says that the new view “makes it easy to reference any other emails without ever having to close your draft.”

The new way of composing email in Gmail is not only faster and easier to use, but also enables you to draft your emails right from the inbox screen, with viewing all of the contextual information from other messages. The pop-up view allows you to attach files to your email and works just like the default compose email page. You can also search or view any new emails that come without having to close the compose window. Well, it is very similar to how a chat window works. That said, you can write multiple messages at once and minimize a message to finish it later.

New Compose in Gmail

Other features included are the ability to insert inline images, which many users have been waiting for. Additionally, as you’re typing in the email addresses, the result will also display the profile pictures of your contacts, helping you to visually identify them easily.

Sharp also adds, ” The reply experience has been designed to fit better inline as part of your conversation — replies take up much less vertical height, intelligently expand to fit your content, and always keep the recipients and other controls in view no matter how long your message gets.”

To try out the new compose in Gmail, following the procedure mentioned below:

Click the Compose button, click the “new compose experience” link right next to the Labels button at the top of the message. Until the change is fully launched, you’ll be able to choose whether you use the new or current experience.

If you think that the new feature isn’t great and want to revert back to the old experience, you can do it as follows:

  1. Click Compose
  2. At the bottom corner of the message pane, click the More menu icon next to the Discard button.
  3. Select “Switch back to old compose.

Google is releasing a preview version of the new compose feature to a limited set of users. It will be enabled to all users once all the features are included. The following features are yet to be added:

  • Insert emoticons and event invitations
  • Print drafts from the More menu
  • Add labels to outgoing messages from the More menu
  • Send read receipts (Google Apps users only)
  • Canned responses

Google Introduces Free SMS in Gmail

Gmail almost singlehandedly redefined the entire webmail segment after its launch in 2004. Since then, Google has steadily expanded the scope of its webmail service. It started off by integrating Google Chat with Gmail, and later added support for video chat, and recently integrated video conferencing through Google Plus Hangouts. Today, Google added another dimension to its mail service. You can now send free SMS to users around the world right from Gmail.

To be honest, this isn’t strictly a new feature. SMS in Gmail Chat has been available as a Labs feature for several years. Google is simply graduating this feature from Labs. To send an SMS to a contact who is offline, simply type his name in the chat window, and you will get the option to send an SMS from the “More options” section in the floating box that appears to the right of your contact. Of course, this will only work if you have your contact’s phone number.

Free-SMS-in-Gmail

SMS in Gmail Chat supports all operators in the United States, and most prominent operators in more than 50 countries. In India, it supports Aircel, IDEA, Loop Mobile, MTS, Reliance, Tata DoCoMo, Tata Indicom, Vodafone (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Gujarat, A.P, Bihar, W.B. & A & N, Assam, N.E. circles only). The two big names that are missing from the list are Airtel and BSNL.

SMS in Gmail Chat is free; however, it does have some restrictions to prevent abuse. Initially, you will have a credit of 50 messages. Every time you send an SMS through chat, your credit will decrease by one, and every time you receive an SMS in Chat, your credit will increase by five. If your credit hits zero, you won’t be able to send a message. In such cases you have two options. You can either wait as the credit will increase back up to one 24 hours later. Or you can send an SMS to your own phone, and then reply to that message multiple times. Every time you send a reply message, your SMS credit is increased by five. Effectively, you will be buying more messages by paying your phone company for these outgoing messages.

Google Brings Google+ Hangouts to Gmail

Whether you like it or not, Google today has announced to integrate replace the video chat option in Gmail with the newly launched Google+ Hangouts. And this change is inevitable.

In a blog post, Google announced the new change stating that Hangouts will “deliver higher reliability and enhanced quality” to your chats.

Unlike the old video chat, which was based on peer-to-peer technology, Hangouts utilize the power of Google’s network to deliver higher reliability and enhanced quality. You’ll be able to chat with all the same people you did before and, in fact, with Hangouts you’ll now be able to reach them not only when they are using Gmail but also if they are on Google+ in the browser or on their Android or iOS devices.

All Gmail users will benefit from the new replacement. The Hangouts integrated within Gmail will enable users to video chat with up to nine people at once, and enjoy all the Hangouts features that you can within Google+, including watch YouTube videos together, collaborate on Google documents and share your screen.

Google Hangouts

With Hangouts in Gmail, users will not only be able to video chat with Gmail users, but friends on Google + and the Google+ iOS and Android apps as well. However, users need to have Google+ accounts to take advantage of all the Hangouts features to work in Gmail. Additionally, Google says that the Hangouts has a list of fun effects that you can try out. Wearing a virtual mustache or pirate hat is one such effect.

For Gmail users who have been using the earlier video chat feature on a regular basis, the Hangouts integration will certainly be a big improvement, with a complete new experience. However, for users who are not really happy with the integration, the best option you have is to get used to it.

The company has been focusing a lot on its social networking site Google+, and is trying to integrate many features that it offers with all other Google services. While the new change is rolling out slowly from today, Google says that it will be available to all Gmail users in the coming weeks.

Gmail Gets New Features: Automatic Message Translation, Smart Mute and Title Tweaks

Back in 2009, Google launched the automatic message translation tool in Gmail Labs, which enabled you to translate emails that are in foreign language into a desired language that you understand. The auto translation of messages became immensely popular and successful, and thus Google decided to graduate it from Gmail Labs and move into the real world. That is, the feature will now be enabled by default to all users.

Google Translate has always been a very friendly and immensely useful tool. Incorporating the same feature in Gmail is a good move from Google, as many times we do receive email messages that are not in a language we understand.

Gmail Translate

Unlike the earlier days, we would not be required to copy the text and translate it using either Google Translate or a different translation engine. With the integrated translation, it’s not only easy to translate messages, but also save your time.

This is how the feature works in action –

Gmail Automatic Translation

All you need to do is click on “Translate message” to translate the message in your desired language.

You can as well choose to permanently translate a particular language to your desired language by clicking on “Always translate: [language]” option on the top-right of the message. You can always disable the feature if you’re a bi-lingual and don’t need translations for a language. All you need to do is click on “Turn off for: [language].”

If you have accidentally turned off the message translation feature for a particular language, or don’t see the Translate message header on a message, click on the down arrow next to Reply at the top-right of the message pane and select the Translate message option in the drop-down.

Also Read: Translate Google+ into More Than 50 Languages

In addition to this, Google has also graduated the Smart Mute and Title Tweaks feature from the Gmail Labs. The smart Mute feature is basically used to mute noisy email thread and makes sure that it stays out of your inbox. Click here to know more about muting email threads.

The Title Tweaks feature changes the title in your browser’s tab to tell you that you have new messages. The tab now reads “Inbox (20) – [email protected] – Gmail” instead of “Gmail – Inbox (20) – [email protected]

Along with the new features, the Gmail team has retired some older and less popular Lab features in the next few days. Those features include – “Old Snakey, Mail Goggles, Mouse Gestures, Hide Unread Counts, Move Icon Column, Inbox Preview, Custom Date Formats and SMS in Chat gadget. Please note that the SMS in Chat lab is not being retired, just the gadget associated with it.”

How PlayStation Network Attack, Password Reuse And Unmonitored Account Resulted in Mass Phishing

Today seemed like just another day. Little did I know, in a span of about 20 minutes, the resulting set of events would be hugely embarrassing for me. I had barely woken up, when my phone started going bonkers with notifications coming from emails, chats & twitter replies. A glance at the notifications indicated that my email account had been compromised and phishing emails had been sent to every one in my contacts list.

The Analysis

I logged into my Google Apps email account and had a look at the recent account activity details, nothing out of the ordinary there.

Gmail Recent Account Activity

Checking the sent mail folder indicated that no emails had been sent in the recent past. It occurred to me to check my other Gmail account.

And indeed, soon as I logged in to my Gmail account, there was a huge red mark indicating activity from China.

Gmail Suspicious Activity

 

Sure enough, the Sent folder had a copy of the spam mail

Spam email

So, what went wrong? It all boils down to a culmination of the PlayStation Network hacking,  some bad habits from my yesteryear and some nice features from Gmail which resulted in the phishing email to look like it came from my current domain account instead of the old Gmail account.  Let’s have a look at each vector:

  1. PlayStation Network break-in
  2. Not monitoring my email account
  3. Password Reuse
  4. Send mail as and Reply-to set to my domain address

 

PlayStation Network break-in

PlayStation network was hacked recently, with all 77 million accounts compromised as a result of this break-in. I firmly believe this is the primary reason behind my  email account being compromised. The fact that my email account was accessed from a China IP barely 2 days after the break-in before sending off the mails is proof enough to convince me that the user information was sold off to spammers in China.

Not monitoring my email account

Before switching over to my Google Apps account, I had been using this Gmail account. Once the Google Apps account had been setup, I migrated all my contacts and mail over to my Google Apps account. Furthermore I had also used Google Apps’s Auto Forwarding to ensure that any stray email to the old id would get fetched and forwarded automatically to my new account. This resulted in me never monitoring the account. If I had monitored the account, I would have noticed the big red mark under Gmail’s unusual activity and would have changed the password right then.

Password reuse

You’ve heard this before lots of times, and probably are guilty of it – password reuse refers to using the common password across most/all of web services that you use. What starts as convenience turns out to be a single point of failure – just access to this one password is enough for spammers / hackers to gain access to all your accounts.  In my case even though password reuse is something I had kicked out quite some time ago ( thanks to LastPass), back then when I had setup my accounts – I had used the same password for Gmail & PSN. With spammers getting access to my password with the PSN break-in and my failure in having used the same password – getting access to my account was easy.

Send mail as and Reply-to set to my domain address

Gmail has this nice “Send mail as” feature – basically it allows you to send email originating from one Gmail account to appear as originating from another Gmail account(that you have access to, of course). I had used this feature, along with Reply-to set to my current email address during my stages of migration from Gmail to Google Apps. Post migration, however I let these settings remain as-is and did not change them.

End result of all of these:

  • My Gmail account was broken in
  • All the contacts in my contact list were spammed with phishing email
  • To make this worse, they appeared to have originated from my domain account, instead of the dormant Gmail account.

So, what happened then?

As I had mentioned above, soon as the email was sent, I received numerous emails, IMs, and twitter replies about phishing mail being sent from my account. I used the steps outlined by Keith in his earlier post about how to handle a situation like this. I changed the password on my prior Gmail account immediately(mind you: my previous password was not a dictionary password – and neither was it easy to guess or brute force). I sent an apology email to the unintended  recipients  of the phishing mail. (Un)fortunately, Gmail had already marked mails coming from that account as suspicious and that my account might have been compromised so I had to reply to some people mentioning that the second email was a genuine one from me.

Learnings from this event

As a Super User, I take pride (and great pains as well) in knowing and trying to ensure that accounts were never compromised. Today’s account has been a huge embarrassment – and a learning experience for me. To summarize:

  • The ghost of your past bad practices will return!
  • Never, ever let any account, especially as critical as email – even if it dormant – go unmonitored. If you aren’t using it, close it or delete it.
  • On event of any service break-in – always change the password!
  • Don’t use the same password for each service

 

 

 

Need For Speed The Run Announced

Need for Speed is easily the most recognized racing game franchise in the entire world. That is because mostly all games in the franchise fulfill the insane craving of adrenaline junkies the need for speed, per se with great visuals, astounding locations, thumping audio tracks ,and of course, the super fast cars that you take out for races.

NFStherun

Need for Speed The Run will take players on yet another action-filled joyride through different locales where players flirt with danger at 200 miles per hour. While there are no substantial screenshots or details of the game as yet, it looks like the game will deliver what it usually delivers fast cars.

Executive Producer at Electronic Arts, the publisher of The Run, Jason DeLong commented that we think that Need for Speed The Run is going to surprise people with its intense, thrilling story and big action feel. But the game would be nothing without hot cars and crazy-fast chases.

The game is being developed under the cutting edge new engine from DICE (the developers of Battlefield 2, Mirror’s Edge and other fantastic games) called Frostbite 2. The visuals and feel of the game is bound to be more immersive and gorgeous than any of the previous Need for Speed games. Not only that, apparently the game will also take immersive storytelling to a new level with cutting edge performances that will draw the player into a world with no speed limits, rules or allies.

Well, you are excited, are you not?

Gmail Smart Labels Does Intelligent Classification Of Emails From Forums, Subscriptions And Mass Mailing Lists

Great … not again, this forum has sent me two dozen messages in the last 6 hours since I signed up, I just wonder how many will pile up till next morning

People get a lot of email every single day. And guess what, most of these messages go to Trashwithout any second thought. You use custom labels, filters, priority inbox, nested labels and other ways to organize your Gmail inbox but there are two major problems with Email filtering and categorizing them in proper order.

First, there is no automatic categorization of bulk emails (those which are not junk, of course). The ones you receive from forums, Google Groups, newsletters and other news groups. They land to your inbox and creating a filter or editing existing filters for each and every source is just impossible. The second problem is that you don’t want to mark these notification emails as Spam; instead you need a better way to categorize bulk emails, an autopilot mode is just what saves the day.

The good news is that Gmail has just introduced another neat feature in Gmail Labs called Smart Labels. Smart labels performs an automatic categorization of incoming emails and labels them as either Bulk, Notificationor Forum. There are no settings to tweak, no need to specify the source addresses in your existing filters; all you have to do is activate the feature from Gmail labs and you’re good to go.

smart-labels

smart-labels-filterAs soon as the labs feature is on, you will notice that three new labels have been created and listed on top of your existing Gmail labels. The image on the right is an example of my Gmail inbox.

I must say Smart Labels is quite intelligent, all notification emails e.g messages from Facebook groups, Paypal billing, invoice payments, shipping orders from Checkout sites like TinyDeal goes to the Notificationsfolder. These messages are not spam but they are skipped from the inbox the moment they arrive, saving you precious amount of time.

Messages that have been sent to a large number of people goes to the Bulkfolder. Typical examples are offers, newsletters, subscriptions and of course those so called funnyemails when your colleague thought that embedding 40 pictures of Mickey mouse is really cool.

notification-label

You can however replace your existing filters with Smart labels or keep both of them, Smart labels doesn’t gets in the way of your current order of categorizing and filtering incoming messages. Should you want to avoid specific emails being smart labelled, edit the required filter from Settings > Filtersand choose a proper category of your choice.

Overall, Smart labels takes the heck out of notifications, payment reminders, subscriptions, newsletters and other formalmessages that arrive your inbox every single day. As I said earlier, there is no setting to tweak and nothing to configure at all, set it On and forget. Do give this a try and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Gmail Adds The Ability To Restore Contacts List To An Earlier Time

Gmail’s undo send feature is a lifesaver. Once you have activated the undo send option from Gmail settings, you can cancel sending an accidentally sent email after hitting the “Send” button.This is useful when you realize that you have accidentally sent the email to a wrong person or you should add some more information to the message that has already been sent.

Recently, the Google developers increased the Undo send limit to 30 seconds which is even more useful for slow movers like me. But such is not the case with Gmail contacts, you are not able to restore an accidentally deleted email address from Gmail’s contact manager. Either you have to manually add the contacts or you have to delete everything and start from scratch,   provided you have a back up copy of your Gmail contact list saved elsewhere.

Good news, the Google developers have just added a new option under Gmail contacts which lets you restore your Gmail contact list to an earlier time.

To get started, log in to your Gmail account, click “Contacts” from the left pane and choose the “More actions” drop down menu. Then select the “Restore contacts” option as shown below:

This will open a small browser overlay window where you can define the time when you want the contact list to be rolled back. The general options include restoring the contacts to 1 week, yesterday, 1 hour and 10 minutes. However, if you feel you had accidentally deleted someone a couple of weeks ago, choose the “Custom option” and enter a date of your choice.

Hitting the “restore” button works like a charm, the previous state of the contact list is restored automatically. Works exactly the same way as “System Restore” in windows, it’s just the fact that you can’t define an auto backup option for contact list within Gmail settings. Handy !

More Gmail Problems: Never Stops Loading For Some Users

GmailLast month, we reported that Gmail was being unbearably slow for a small subset of users. The problem came to our notice after Gabriel Weinberg, the founder of Duck Duck Go, complained about Gmail’s sluggishness.

It seems that Gmail problems are raring their ugly head once again. One of our commenters pointed out that Gmail has been practically inaccessible to some users for the past three days. According to this thread on Google’s official support forum, Gmail perpetually displays the “loading” prompt and fails to open any mail. Here is a typical description of the problem offered by changk05:

Also for me started after July 4th weekend. The problem remains despite 4 different computers with different versions of IE, and a mac as well. Installing Chrome did not work. Can’t open messages. Can’t forward messages from list view. Can’t get into settings. Please fix.

Although most of the affected users started encountering these problems after the 4rth July weekend, some users have been experiencing difficulties for more than a week. Let’s hope that Google will fix the issue for everyone, and having a famous blog is not a per-requisite for getting support from Google.

Update: Google has finally responded to the mounting complaints. Here is the response offered by a Google employee:

I am sorry that you are all experiencing this issue. We are working very hard to solve the problem, and I will update you as soon as I can.

While some of the workarounds do not work for everyone, they are worthwhile troubleshooting steps. If you have not yet tried any of the following workarounds, I suggest giving them a try.

1. Clear your cache and cookies (you can find instructions on how to do this in the referenced article)
2. Use the basic HTML version of Gmail by clicking on the link at the bottom of Gmail
3. Use another browser.
If these do not help fix your problem, you can try some of the other suggestions in this thread. In the meantime, please know that we are continuing to work towards solving this issue.

We have also posted this problem on our Known Issues page, where you can report that you are experiencing the issue.