My latest at ProfHacker: A Quick Look at the New GMail

Last week, Google released an update to GMail. It’s been getting a lot of digital ink in the tech world, including pieces at ZDNet, Slashgear, and PCWorld — and that’s definitely an illustrative rather than and exhaustive list, as a quick search will show.

The update has all kinds of useful features. The image above shows the integration with Google Calendar. Users can also choose to show Google Keep or Google Tasks in the sidebar, and can switch among them (or hide the sidebar entirely) with just a click. The left sidebar is also collapsible.

In addition to these integrations, GMail can now snooze messages, nudge you to reply to a message that’s been sitting in your inbox for a while (if the sender is someone you usually reply to quickly), and alert you if a message looks suspicious. Using confidential mode (not yet available in the new GMail, it seems) you can set a sensitive message to disappear after an expiration date of your choosing, require additional authentication to read the message, and/or prevent recipients from forwarding, downloading, or printing it.

Those are some very useful features — but there are some important caveats. First, the new GMail isn’t yet available to everyone. Only regular GMail users can enable it themselves. GSuite users can’t unless their administrator has given them that option — and, since the redesign is part of the Early Adopter Program, it’s likely a lot of admins won’t do that just yet.

Second, at least for this version, Google’s made a choice that’s utterly baffling. You’ll note that the calendar is blank in the image above. It shouldn’t be. I teach on Fridays, so that calendar should be showing two classes plus office hours. So why aren’t they visible?

They’re not visible because the account displayed in the image is my personal (regular GMail) account, and the calendar that contains those events belongs to my work (GSuite) account. For some odd reason, the integrated calendar will only show other calendars if you have read and write access to them (I was able to test this with an account from a personal domain I manage). So, I can’t see my work calendar in the same window as my personal email, even though I have permission to see it. There’s also no way to view subscribed calendars. Even more oddly, the panel won’t show other calendars that belong to my account.

The panel could show those calendars, though. It has access to the data: clicking on the “Open in new tab” button at the top of the panel opens a tab where I can see all my calendars, including the calendars that have been shared with me, and the calendars I subscribe to. Google’s choice here seems bizarre.

My take? There’s a lot of promise here — but those who work with multiple accounts and/or calendars may want to wait for an updated version.

Have you tried the new version of GMail? What are your impressions thus far? Let us know in the comments.

from ProfHacker » Amy CavenderProfHacker – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Education

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