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Gmail – It’s new, good and it’s confusing

, June 20, 2013, 0 Comments

Google has rolled out a new interface for Gmail hoping that it will let the user gain control over their email accounts. While the web may be lucky in getting a hold of this new interface, iOS and Android users will have a wait before they get the new UI on their phones.

How it works
Simply put, the new user interface follows a tabbed approach that seeks to sort out primary important emails from promotions, social networks, updates and forums. Watch out for “Configure inbox” in your settings. This allows you to switch to the new interface.

Primary – Important and personal mails directly addressing you.

Social – Emails from Twitter, Facebook etc

Promotions – From subscriptions and discount/sale sites

Updates – Updates and communication from subscription sites or even your leasing office.

Forums – As the name suggests, communication that happens over a discussion you have been a part of.

Include starred in Primary – If you want all starred emails to appear in your inbox, this is the box you want to check at the time of setup.

Select from the above options and you have control over what you want, how you want emails displayed in your inbox.

As simple and user-friendly as the above setup looks, I was honestly looking forward to a complete revamp to the Gmail user interface. I can now clearly say like many updates in technology, this is one that takes some getting used to.

Look – I’m not a big fan of the tabbed system. The previous Gmail has hardly been gutted out and updated to match the sleek and bold looks of the new Outlook. The new Gmail still looks outdated with a few tweaks here and there. So no points from me on this one!

Functionality – The setup makes it look like a functional idea. If only my brain was wired to sort as fast as a computer. The new interface has one key advantage. If I ever wanted to check my email for something important on the go, I just have to run through messages sitting on my primary tab. The catch to Gmail’s new interface is having the user sort through the messages to define what’s important. For example, my bank statement sits in the “updates” tab. If I wanted it in my primary tab, I have the option to move it to the primary tab and have those emails delivered to the primary tab in the future. So the true functionality of the interface can be experienced if the user has super sorting skills.

Smart Labels/Categories – The main problem arises when you have both a preset filter to sort emails from a site and gmail’s new interface to sort everything as social or updates. The tabs only sort through mails already existing in your inbox and not from archives. Let’s just say changing your filters is the solution to this problem and for those of you who have labeled every single email, good luck!

Final Verdict
Gmail’s new interface, I assume, should have been a competitor’s answers to the new and sleek looking Outlook. All I can say is, Gmail has never been more confusing. The tabs don’t necessarily categorize right. In the name of letting users gain control, their inability to build a robust and smart interface has made this a serious disappointment. Opening email has now become a task than simply email.

About author
Divya Ramamoorthy is a graduate from Madras university and a post-graduate (MBA) from Jain Group of Institutions- Bangalore, India, based in San Francisco Bay Area, United States. Divya area of expertise revolves around creating careers, identifying talents, recruiting and assisting people . she is also currently enrolled in a certificate program in human resources with the University of California, Santa Cruz. ...more ...more