Call it Gmail's evolution by a thousand innovations.
Gmail Labs has whipped up another interesting feature in the name of efficiency, letting users turn an e-mail into a Google Docs file with one click.
The genesis of this, like so many other Gmail features, came out of a personal need from a Gmail software engineer. Google's Jeremie Lenfant-Engelmann noted:
"More than once, I've had a conversation over e-mail and later realized that the information contained in the messages would make a great starting point for a document. So I built an experimental feature for Gmail Labs that does just that: with one simple click, "Create a document" converts an email into a Google Docs document."
To try this, you need to navigate to the Gmail Labs tab under Settings, select "Enable" next to "Create a document" and hit "Save Changes" at the bottom. Open an e-mail in your Gmail in-box and you should see the Create a Document link on the right side of the page. Convert away.
Does anyone else think this "experimental feature" will become permanent? I sure do. You won't have to copy and paste e-mail content, open up a Docs file, and drop it in. I can recall several times composing an e-mail to a colleague, then realizing it should look more official, copying and pasting the content into a Word document and shipping it as an attachment.
Now you can do all this from within Google's cloud, which is nice. Is this an earth-shattering feature? Hardly, but we need to consider the big picture. This points to the big trend in Gmail, which is becoming increasingly integrated with the rest of Google Apps.
This is Gmail's evolution by a thousand innovations. In 2008, we've seen a slew of them, including the ability to read PDFs in Gmail, a task manager, SMS text chat, a Calendar and Docs gadget, canned responses, and voice and video chat.
What is your favorite? What would you like Google to add to Gmail in 2009?