Bonnie Cha

Recent Posts by Bonnie Cha

Google Updates Gmail to Help Fend Off Email Overload

Today, Google announced an update to its desktop and mobile versions of Gmail with tools to help users better organize all the messages they receive throughout the day.

Now, Gmail offers the ability to sort mail into five different categories: Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums. The sections are pretty self-explanatory, but Primary is dedicated for messages from friends and family. Social is reserved for emails from your social networks, media-sharing sites, online dating services and so forth. Promotions is for all the junk — err, I mean deals and promotions from retailers. Updates include bills, receipts and confirmations. Finally, Forums are for messages from discussion boards and online groups.

In the desktop version, the categories appear as tabs, and you can customize which, if any, of the tabs you want to display in your inbox. To start organizing existing messages, it’s a simple matter of dragging and dropping emails to the various tabs. Going forward, you can set rules to have email from certain senders to automatically filter to a particular tab.

For the iOS and Android apps, the Primary inbox is the default view, but accessing the other categories are just a tap or two away. Like the desktop version, you can also disable the feature completely.

Google is not breaking any new ground by introducing categories. Microsoft’s allows you to save emails in a range of categories. Still, the new feature should be a welcome addition for Gmail users who don’t find the labels function to be sufficient.

The new desktop version of Gmail will be rolling out over the next few weeks. Meanwhile, Gmail for Android 4.0+ is being released today, and though Gmail for the iPhone and iPad isn’t available from iTunes yet, it should hit the store soon.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus