Google Adds Search Capability, Extra Emoticons to Gmail
For users who never want to leave the comfort of their Gmail account
page, your day has come: On Thursday, Google announced the Google
Search experiment in Gmail Labs, which allows users to search online
using a widget on the left side toolbar in Gmail. For the
emoticon-obsessed among us, Google also announced the addition of more
than 1,200 "extra emoji".
Google software engineer Adam de Boor wrote in a blog post that after users activate the application in setting, they simply type their search request in, and a window (like a chat window, but a bit bigger) appears at the bottom of the screen with the first few search results. Users can click on a search result and it'll open up in another window (or another tab) so one can make sure it is what one is looking for. Once a user has determined it is the correct result, moving the mouse over the result back in Gmail reveals a pull-down menu that lets users manipulate the search result.
"I used to have a problem: People would ask me questions, over chat or email, and I'd have to leave Gmail to search Google for an answer. Then I'd have to select the answer, copy it, go back to Gmail and paste the answer into the chat window or my reply," de Boor wrote. "Sometimes I'd get distracted and forget to go back to Gmail, and I'd have to go through it all again when I remembered what I'd been doing."
The pull-down menu changes depending on what the user is doing in Gmail: If reading a message, users can start a reply to the message with the search result as the first thing in the reply. If writing a message, one can paste the result, or just the URL into the message. If users are chatting with friends, they can send the search result via chat. "You can also always compose a new message to send the search result," de Boor wrote.
He also noted that like everything in Gmail Labs the application was a work in progress and would likely be tinkered with over time, and welcomed feedback. De Boor also recommended users to turn on "Navbar drag and drop" in Labs so the Web search box can be moved to the top of the left hand side of the account page, lest the left side of your account become too crowded.
On a side note, Google announced on Wednesday a perhaps less practical, but sure to be popular addition to Gmail Labs: Extra emoji, the "colorfully animated" brainchild of Google's team in Japan, which consists of more than 1,200 emoticons. The original 19 emoticons (textual portrayal of a writer's mood or facial expression used to alert a responder to the temper of a statement) were such a hit in Gmail, software engineer Darren Lewis wrote in a blog post, that the team felt responsible to expand the range of emotions and objects that could be represented.
"How could we have included a [emoticon dog] but not a cat? What if I want wine rather than [emoticon coffee mug]?" he asked. He directed users to the Labs tab under "Settings" where users can enable "Extra Emoji" and gain access to, among other things, a small dancing man, selected fruits, vegetables, animals and musical instruments and facial expressions.
"If you're wondering how we had time to create another couple hundred emoticons when we're busy doing important stuff like rewriting Gmail for mobile and making Gmail work offline, the answer is: we didn't," Lewis admits. "All of these extra emoticons are straight from the secret underground labs of some of the top Japanese mobile carriers, used with permission."