Google began rolling out its new look for Gmail Tuesday. According to an update on Gmail’s blog, it’s now available for everyone. For now, you can choose whether or not you want the new Gmail, but it’s likely to switch over for all eventually.

Here are nine things you should know about Gmail’s new features:

1. Resizing Options




Gmail users can now control the density of their inbox. Depending on your preference of white space, you choose manually between three sizes: comfortable, cozy or compact.

Click here to view this gallery.

Do the changes make navigating Gmail easier? We want to know your thoughts. Let us know whether you will be switching over or not in the comments.

More About: email, features, gmail, Google, Tech

For more Dev & Design coverage:


539-html-email-boilerplate

Web developers often moan about having to support five mainstream browsers, a few mobile devices and quirky behavior in a certain applications. If you think we have it bad, spare a thought for those creating HTML emails. They must contend with:

Forget about stylesheets, floats, negative margins, positioning, background images, animated GIFs, PNGs or any other fun time-saving techniques. If you think it’s tough making a site work in IE6 today, HTML emails must be coded like it’s 1998. That means tables, inline styles and images.

Fortunately, Sean Powell has taken inspiration from Paul Irish’s HTML5 Boilerplate and created the HTML Email Boilerplate. It includes various fixes discovered by industry leaders such as Campaign Monitor and MailChimp to produce a bullet-proof email template which works in Outlook, GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and other popular clients.

Sean admits it’s not plug and play — you will need to get your hands dirty with coding — but it’s a great first step which solves many of the common problems experienced when developing HTML emails.

The HTML Email Boilerplate code includes two HTML files: one with commented instructions and one without which can be used as the basis of your email. It’s issued under the MIT License, is free and can be used for any commercial or non-commercial project.

What have you got to lose? Please let us know if you’ve tried the boilerplate and, more importantly, whether it worked in your email application.




Windows Live has just announced something new for Hotmail: Interactive e-mail.

The e-mail giant is allowing developers to embed and run JavaScript from within e-mails; this is the natural next step in e-mail’s evolution from plain text to HTML and beyond.

What this means for the average e-mail recipient is that more of the messages they receive will be increasingly up-to-date, and content will be interactive. If the developer sending the e-mail is hip to Hotmail’s changes, you’ll be able to take actions from within the e-mail itself without having to navigate to a slew of other web pages. Basically, the new Hotmail e-mails will look, feel and behave like a web page running within an e-mail.

It’s a cool update, and it also has the potential to keep Hotmail more competitive with Google’s Gmail, which offers users previews of content from Flickr and YouTube within e-mails.

The problem with running JavaScript in e-mails, of course, is security: How can Hotmail protect users from malicious code? Windows Live Active Views is a product aimed at answering this question.

While we’d love to know more about what exactly Active Views is and how it does what it does, all Microsoft has told us so far is that Active Views uses “technology that allows senders to run code securely in their email messages.” That’s a pretty vague statement about a pretty cool feature; we’ll let you know when we learn more.

Orbitz and Monster.com will be the first two companies to use the new interactive e-mail platform from Hotmail, with LinkedIn and Netflix jumping on the bandwagon soon. Here’s a quick demo of the product:



Reviews: Flickr, LinkedIn, YouTube

More About: active views, e-mail, email, hotmail, javascript, Windows Live

For more Dev & Design coverage:

401-gmail-priority-inbox

It’s been a busy week for Google’s GMail developers. They recently added free telephone voice calls and now they’ve introduced a new feature to save you from email overload.

A typical corporate user sends or receives an average of 110 messages per day and spends 8 hours per week dealing with their inbox. It’s a recognized cause of stress, can make people feel overwhelmed, and prevents them completing more important tasks. GMail’s new Priority Inbox could help you reduce the strain. It’s an experimental feature which is being rolled out to all users over the next few days. Look for a bright red “Priority Inbox” link at the top right of the page — you should see it soon.

Essentially, Priority Inbox is a junk mail filter in reverse. It recognizes important messages — such as those from your boss — and gives less priority to non-critical messages. Such as those from Bob in the Accounts who cc’s the whole company when the coffee machine’s empty.

As usual, Google has released a cheesy video to explain the concept:

Priority Inbox watches what you read and respond to. It learns over time and should become more efficient at sorting the critical from the trivial. The inbox is split into three sections — Important and unread, Starred and Everything else (you can configure them in GMail’s Settings):

GMail Priority Inbox

If the filter gets it wrong, you can mark a message as more or less important using the + and – buttons accordingly.

Google has tested Priority Inbox internally for 18 months. According to it’s own internal reports, employees now spend 13% less time reading irrelevant emails.

For more information, refer to The Priority Inbox page.

Will it save you from email overload?