Google is rolling out an update to Gmail and Inbox for both Android and the web that will create links for physical addresses, email addresses and phone numbers that are found in your email messages. The update is on the fast track which means it should roll out to all users over the course of the next few days.
How it works is pretty straightforward and should save time for users. If there is a physical address in an email message, the link will take you to Google Maps. If there is an email address found, the link will open up your default email client and set you up to compose a new email to that address. Finally, when you are on your Android phone, if there is phone number found, clicking the link will open up your default phone app to place a call to the number.
One of the announcements this week at Google I/O ’17 was the addition of Smart Reply to Gmail. This one-tap feature allows you to reply to an email quickly and without having to type anything in response. It is a feature that has been in Google Inbox for some time now and it appears that users of the Gmail app on Android are starting to see it show up. If you aren’t familiar with Smart Reply, here is how it works at a high level.
Using Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, the email you receive is interrogated for information – Is there a question? Is there a date or time? Those kinds of things. If such an item is found in the email, you will see a selection of replies to that question at the bottom of the page. Just tap the appropriate response and a new email pane is opened. Tap send and you are done. That’s it.
A small update to Gmail is currently rolling out to the Google Play Store that brings support for GIF keyboards from within the app. The update is build 18.104.22.168698241.release for those keeping score at home and who like to play Google version Bingo. When it is installed, you will be able to insert GIF animations directly from the keyboard instead of having to go to another app, then copy-and-paste it into your message. In order for it to work, you have to be using a GIF supporting keyboard like Google’s own Gboard.
Once you have the update, inserting GIFs is done like it is any other app when using a supporting keyboard. You can search for GIFs from the keyboard, tap them, and they are inserted into your messages.
Google has rolled out the ability to send friends and family funds via Gmail on your Android phone. The update requires the latest version of Gmail (which rolled out last week) but the ability is a back-end change that Google has enabled. The ability to send funds is something that has been on the Gmail web portal for a while now and having it added to the Android version just makes it that much easier to use.
How it works is pretty straightforward. When you are composing an email to another Gmail user, tapping the attachment icon (the paperclip icon) will give you the option to send money. This will pop-up a page that allows you to type in the amount of money which can then be sent from your Google Wallet to the recipient. On their end, they simply accept the transfer in the email sent to them and they can have it added to their Google
Wallet or transferred to their bank account if they have it configured.
There are some catches to this as you may have figured out. First, it only works to other Gmail recipients. You can’t, for example, send mail to a friend on Exchange or Outlook.com. Second, this update is tied to your Google Wallet so you will need to fund that wallet in some way. This is usually just tying your Wallet to a credit card. Finally, this update is for Android only. iOS users don’t have this functionality yet.
Productivity enhancing add-ons are going to be coming to Gmail later this year. At Google Cloud Next today, the company announced that developers will soon be able to create add-ons that allow users to immediately jump to another app from within Gmail to complete a task or perform another task. The idea is to increase productivity as you can stay within one app, Gmail, yet complete other tasks from another app.
The example used was from Intuit where someone could send an invoice to a customer right from within Gmail. Using Machine Learning to figure out that the email was about a bill, users will be able with a tap to move into Quickbooks to create and send the invoice without ever having to leave the mail app itself. Salesforce would be another example as you could add a contact to your contacts list within SalesForce right from Gmail.
Yesterday I posted on the improved support for Exchange in the latest update to the Gmail app. The update to the app now allows you to manage your Exchange tasks from within the app so you don’t have to go elsewhere to do so. There is another nice update that came with the 7.2 version when it comes to the app shortcuts. Now when you long press the Gmail icon, you will be able with a single tap access any of the configured accounts you have in the app.
As readers likely know, in order for app shortcuts to work, you have to be running Nougat 7.1.1 or later. That, for now, limits it to just a handful of devices unfortunately.
When you access the shortcuts, you will have one for each of your accounts along with a compose shortcut. When you select one of your accounts, you are taken to the inbox for just that account, allowing you to focus just on it and not all of your emails from various accounts you have configured.
Google continues to show the love to Microsoft Exchange users with the latest update to Gmail. The update is rolling out now and when you get it, you will be able to manage your tasks setup in your Exchange account through the app. No longer do you have to depend on another app (like Outlook for Android) or your desktop client to manage them.
Google has supported Exchange accounts in Gmail on Nexus devices going back to the Nexus 5 but it wasn’t until mid-year last year that they opened this feature up to non-Nexus devices. Since then, Google has been tweaking improvements into the app for Exchange but no major feature changes have happened until today.