Google Aug. 10 moved to improve Gmail Contacts, moving it to the top left corner of the Gmail inbox and adding keyboard shortcuts, custom labels, sort by name and other perks.
Google Aug. 10 moved to improve Gmail Contacts, a move
based on constructive criticism from some of the Webmail application's roughly
200 million users.
Gmail Product Manager Benjamin Grol said users have asked
Google to make Contacts easier to use and offer tools to make Contacts more
To wit, links to Gmail Contacts and Tasks now sit atop
the left corner of a user's Gmail inbox under a new Mail link.
Those who don't want to access Contacts or Tasks can hide
these links by clicking near the right edge of the Mail link to hide the mini
Other improvements to Contacts include
Keyboard shortcuts (users must go to Contacts and hit
"?" for the full list)
Sort by last name (find it under "More
Custom labels for phone numbers and other fields
Undo changes that have just been made
Structured name fields
Manual and bulk contacts merge
"We've been working on overhauling Gmail Contacts to
make it work more like the rest of Gmail, so if you know how to use Gmail, now
you should automatically feel comfortable in Contacts, too," Grol said in a
However, the Gmail Contacts improvements won't be made
available to Google Apps users. Grol said his team is working on "making
domain-specific features work well in the new interface."
When that's done, Google will roll out the Contacts to
Google Apps customers.
Google also made the Compose Mail option in Gmail a
button instead of a link. Also, the Select All, None, Read, Unread and Starred
links, which used to sit above messages, are now options in a drop-down menu
next to the Archive button.
But the Contacts improvements should be especially well received.
Poor Contacts functionality was one of the problem
areas for Serena Software IT Director Ron Brister, who
shuttled his users
over to Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite after
being frequently frustrated by Google Apps.
In addition to poor Contacts support, Brister cited poor
synchronization and almost non-existent customer service as reasons for moving
his 700 or so colleagues to BPOS.
The new Gmail Contacts come a week after Google began
multiple sign-in access to users looking to access up to three
Google accounts from the same Web browser.