Google Adds New Chat Box-Style Dial and Reply Experience to Gmail

Gmail has received a small but remarkable update that allows users to compose emails right from the inbox. Users can check emails as they are typed, minimize their drafts, and also compose two messages simultaneously.

The biggest benefit of this new composition experience is that it saves time with the new message pane opening up in the inbox itself as an enlarged chat window. This makes it much easier to browse older messages without having to save a draft of the current message first. Previously, you had to save the current email as a draft first, open the old message, and then reopen the draft to pick up where you left off.

Google product manager Phil Sharp announced the tweak in a blog post showcasing comfort and time saved thanks to the new composition experience.

How many times have you written an email and had to refer to something in another post? Saving a draft, opening the old email, and then reopening your draft wastes precious minutes. The new composition appears in a window, just like the discussions (only larger).

That said, you can easily type two or more messages at once, just like you would have two or more chat windows open at the same time. You can even minimize messages as drafts and finish them later.

Replying to posts has also been improved, with replies taking up less vertical space and expanding automatically to fit your content. Recipients and other commands are always visible regardless of the length of the message.

Other new features include adding profile pictures to the autocomplete bar when you add contacts to an email. This is useful for finding the right person much faster. Users can also drag and drop addresses between the To :, CC :, and Bcc: boxes, and the address box automatically collapses when you’re done filling it out.

The composition area appears in the lower right corner of the screen with a cleaner, more streamlined design. Users who click on the “Compose” button will be greeted with a pop-up window giving them the option to try the new composing experience until the change becomes mandatory.

You can access various options at the bottom of the message window, such as Send, Format, Attachment, Trash, and a menu of “More” options.

Google says it is working on other features that it says will be available soon. These include:

  • 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)
  • Standardized responses

The search giant has brought new features and tests others from time to time. It integrated search with Gmail in August, showing results in a user’s Gmail account for all data related to a search request.

Earlier this month, Google launched a field test that allows users to search among a variety of Google products from a single search box. Google mentioned that “this essay is only available in English and for @ addresses (not available on Google Apps accounts). Additionally, the experience may not be enabled for everyone.

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