By Taylor Miles
During Google I/O 2013 last week, Google made some huge announcements about Gmail that kind of flew under the radar. While social is "sexy" and some claim email is "dead," Google is making email actionable in more ways than one, which I'll cover below.
Those that argue email is dead (or dying) often ignore some high-level, obvious facts, such as 90% of adults are still use their computers to access emails, according to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive [PDF] in November 2012. MarketingLand promoted an infographic by VisibleGains that showed email has nearly 3x the user base of Facebook and Twitter...combined! And Paul Carr of PandoDaily wrote a humorous article on the impact of the sometimes neglected "old man," email.
These types of stats, plus the enviable amount of data that Google has collected, are enough reasons for Google to not only push new features into Gmail, but change the way we view what email can do.
Here are the game-changing features that I'm extremely excited about:
Take actions within the inbox with Gmail Actions
Actions do speak louder than words. That’s exactly what you’ll get with the new Actions feature in Gmail.
I know savvy online marketers around the world celebrated and started thinking how to optimize Schemas in Gmail the second they saw it announced.
A lot of emails are getting through the inbox every day, but it’s really hard to read them all, muchless take action. This is especially true if an email requires you to go to another website with accepting invitations, renewing subscriptions, leaving reviews, etc.
With Gmail Actions, some of those tedious routines are now handled within the inbox. It’s designed to remove the hassle of taking too many steps just to achieve a certain goal.
For certain types of messages that require you to take action, buttons are readily available right next to those emails. So there’s no need to open a party invitation from a friend because you can RSVP right away using Actions.
The RSVP Action is a type of action under In-App Actions category. Other types include One-Click Action for emails like registration confirmation, and Review Action for emails that ask reviews or recommendations.
For complex emails, the Go-To Actions category is used because it’s an action that can’t be done within the inbox. If you open a flight confirmation message, all important information about your flight are displayed on top, so there’s no need to scroll down.
Additionally, a “Check-In” go-to action button is displayed right next to the flight confirmation email that takes you to a specific page in the airline’s website.
The above actions are just teasers of what we’re still about to see in Gmail’s constant evolution as an email service. The Gmail Team said that they’re hoping to “add even more useful actions moving forward.”
Send money within Gmail using Google Wallet
If you’ve been using Google Wallet for a while now, then you’ll be glad to know that you can soon use it within your Gmail account.
This new feature in Gmail allows you to securely send money to your family or friends for free or for a small fee. And get this, you can even do this action to anyone without a Gmail address.
To get started, all you have to do is type in your email message, hover your mouse cursor on the paperclip icon found on the new compose box, click on the dollar ($) icon to attach money, input desired amount, and press Send button.
For now, the Google Wallet option in Gmail is only available on desktop.
And one more thing … Gmail users who are under 18 years old may not see this option once it starts to roll out.
Google Hangouts in Gmail
In its quests to create a consistent user experience across its products, Google is slowly rolling out Google Hangouts to all its communication-related services. And Gmail’s chat system is no exception.
Unlike Actions and Wallet, Hangouts is already available for you to try out in your Gmail account. To get started, go to your chat list, find the “Try it out” button, and click to begin experiencing Hangouts in Gmail.
Once you start using Gmail Hangouts, you’ll notice that contacts are ranked according to the person that you've recently talked to or chatted with. Also, you now have the ability to do video calls with as many as ten people at once.
Did I mention that you can transition Hangouts conversation between your computer and mobile device? Yep, you can Hangout in your phone and then continue it in Gmail seamlessly.
Hangouts was originally a chat app within the Google+ platform. Now, it’s already a standalone instant messaging system that you can download for your desktop and mobile devices via Google Play or Apple App Store.