Google Apps: Putting Context into Gmail
Just ahead of the opening of the Google I/O developer conference, the search giant says in a blog entry that it’s enhancing the Google Apps Marketplace with the ability to add contextual gadgets to the Gmail interface. In plain terms, it means that you can now display boxes with all kinds of useful, relevant information as you read a Gmail message. Here’s the scoop.
You know how you can enable YouTube, Google Docs, or Picasa previews in Gmail so you can see what your friends or coworkers are linking you to without having to click away? Well, you’re on the right track, but Google contextual gadgets can display anything a developer can think of.
Some examples: AwayFind has a solution that lets you mark contacts or message threads as “urgent,” and then alerts you via SMS, IM, or even phone when new e-mails arrive. Xobni’s contextual gadget pulls up a company profile for people who e-mail you. And friends of The VAR Guy Newmind Group has a super-specialized gadget available now to preview snippets of code from the Github service within Gmail.
On its own, this isn’t a major announcement — the added functionality’s nice, but it’s not going to shake up the market. But Google has done an excellent job of demonstrating, over and over again, its commitment to making its developer and reseller partners look good. If this is what they announce before I/O opens, I’m intrigued to see what they have in store for the conference itself — which runs May 18-19 in San Francisco.