With the exception of the super important ability to print Gmail messages from the cloud, I haven't been focusing on the passel little Gmail features of late (such as the new unread message icon or the search-as-you-type).
I'm making an exception today to discuss the new HTML5 desktop notifications that alert Google Chrome users when a new e-mail or chat message arrives.
This is a great little tool. I've noticed that when I receive alerts to my Motorola Droid X, the phone belches out "Droid" and I know I have a new Gmail messages or Groupon alerts. When I look at the phone, I can see icons for updates across the top.
I press and swipe down to see alerts. So I thought it be cool for Google to do this for my Gmail and chat messages in Chrome.
Alerts come in a pop-up at the lower right-hand corner of the screen like you see on the right.
What's great about them is they're not terribly annoying as alerts can be. Just click on them and the e-mail message pops open to let you respond.
Unlike Microsoft Outlook 2007 e-mail alerts that sit there forever and interrupt your work flow if you're mousing around in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, when Gmail Chrome alerts show up, you can click on them or ignore them and they go away quickly.
The idea is that you don't miss messages coming in, which is key for folks who live in Gmail like I do. Viva la HTML5, the technology making this possible.
To turn them on in your Gmail account, click on the Settings link in the top right corner of Gmail.
Then scroll down to the "Desktop Notifications" section, and choose whether you want to receiver alerts about chat messages, any e-mail message or just notifications for important messages The options look like this:
Google said the tool is currently only available for Chrome, but that it's working to bring notifications to other browsers, presumably Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Opera and Microsoft Internet Explorer.