Google Gmail Needs Improvement: 10 Things to Fix

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Google Gmail Needs Improvement: 10 Things to Fix

by Don Reisinger

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No Title

VOIP, Anyone?Google unveiled a voice-over-IP service for Gmail in August. For now, the tool is quite basic, with free calling available only to the United States and Canada. In the future, Google will need to improve its Gmail VOIP offering. It might not be the centerpiece of Gmail, but it's a key component of its functionality. Google needs to start working on making it more usable to folks around the world.

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POP Retrieval Needs Improvement

As anyone who has connected a POP e-mail account to Gmail knows, it can be a frustrating experience. Gmail only checks for new POP e-mails sporadically. And in order to quickly check to see if new messages have arrived, users must go into the e-mail program's settings pane. A Google Labs app puts that "check e-mail now" option into the Inbox refresh function, but it still doesn't work as well as it should. If Google wants to make Gmail the chosen e-mail solution for the world, better POP support is a necessity.

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Enterprise Functionality—to a Point

Google provides Gmail to the enterprise for just $50 per user per year. It's a cheap option and it allows for storage of up to 25GB. But for most companies that are accustomed to Microsoft Outlook, Gmail will take some getting used to. And since other Web options, such as AppRiver, deliver a more Microsoft-centered service, it's not a stretch to say Google has some work to do if it wants to make Gmail more enterprise-friendly.

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Tabbed E-Mail Works Better

One of the benefits of using Mozilla's desktop-based Thunderbird e-mail client is that it offers tabbed e-mail. By double-clicking on a message, users can move an e-mail into another tab to be viewed later. It makes sifting through multiple e-mails far more efficient, giving a productivity benefit that Gmail is lacking. Tabbed e-mail would make a major difference in Gmail.

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Subject Confusion Can Be Annoying

Sifting through content can be difficult in Gmail. In fact, if a user has several unrelated e-mails that have the same subject line, Gmail can sometimes get confused and lump them all together. The issues extend to Gmail access on the iPhone too. That's not a good thing. And it's something that Google should be working on.

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Priority Inboxs Promise

Priority Inbox is one of the more appealing new features available in Gmail, allowing users to categorize important e-mail messages. Currently, the service is a beta. It needs to be implemented well. And it needs to work as Google promised. If it doesn't, and the company fails in the attempt to make e-mail more manageable through prioritization, it will be a black eye for Gmail.

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Expanded Labs Integration

One of the best aspects of Gmail is Gmail Labs. Users will find all kinds of nice tools that improve the experience of using the program or simply make it more fun to use. But maybe it's time for Google to expand its Labs integration. There are several features, as noted in this slide show, which can be easily fixed with some quick changes. Why shouldn't Google expand Labs to allow employees to quickly address those issues? It's worth considering.

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More Customization Options

A quick trip through Gmail's settings reveals that there isn't all that much that users can change. The service's signature options are quite limited compared with Outlook's, and as mentioned, POP e-mail settings are practically nonexistent. Google needs to open Gmail up for more customization.

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Improved Docs Integration

Recently, Google announced that users can now search for both e-mail messages and Google Docs files from within Gmail. It's a nice feature and it's something that undoubtedly makes some Gmail users wish for more. Perhaps it was just the first step of many that will see Gmail become a fully integrated document editor. After all, Google Docs works well. It would only make sense if its functionality became an even greater part of Gmail in the future.

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Get Rid of Buzz

Google's decision to integrate its social network, Google Buzz, into its e-mail program was a suspect one from the beginning. It's time for the company to moves Buzz out of Gmail. Yes, it might be Google's ticket into the social world, but like Google's other social network, Orkut, it can't compete with Facebook. It's time to stop trying so hard.

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