I’ve been seeing a lot of headlines this afternoon about Google updating the web-based Gmail interface for the first time in years. I can’t remember any changes to Gmail since I switched to it as my only email client back in 2009. Software updates are usually something that I enjoy and look forward to, but today’s rumors are making me worried that a “new and improved” Gmail will wreck havoc on my productivity workflow.
I’ve considered myself a Gmail power user for almost 9 years now. I even wrote about the reasons why I love Gmail in a post from 2009. I still use all the features I talk about in that article to this very day and that’s why I’m worried… Other than labels, stars, and keyboard shortcuts, the other power user features I like to use are all Gmail Labs features which mean that they aren’t truly supported because Google considers them to be experimental.
Two of these features include multiple inboxes and canned responses. I could deal with not having canned responses because I can use an alternative like AutoHotKey on Windows or TextExpander on the Mac which is a program that runs in the background and expands certain keywords into pasted blocks of text for things that I type frequently. It’s a real time saver.
I read one rumor that Google will be bringing the same Smart Reply buttons that we have in the Gmail mobile app, to the desktop web interface. I do like that rumor and will be happy to see it happen, but I would still like to be able to create my own list of custom replies because I currently use a LOT of them.
So although I wouldn’t like to lose it, I can live without the current canned responses feature. But if Google decides to ditch multiple inboxes feature, I’m not going to be a happy camper at all. Multiple inboxes allow me to easily see messages that I need to reply to or groups of messages that I use as a pseudo task management system. I like to see everything on one screen like you can see in the screenshot shown above. That way I don’t have to go searching for what needs to be worked on. If this feature is abandoned, I’ll have to create a new workflow and that’s not something I hope I won’t need to do.
In better news, other than the addition of Smart Reply buttons, Google is also saying that they will allow for messages to be snoozed so that they disappear from your inbox until a later time and will start offering offline access to mail.
Am I the only person who is more than a little anxious about what Google may decide to change or delete from Gmail? Do we need to make a sacrifice to the appease the Google gods so there will be a favorable outcome? Let me know what you’re thinking in the comments.