Update: Google Apps, Gmail, Drive and Docs Experience Partial Outage!

Several of Google services are facing an outage. The outage seems to be partial but widespread. Gmail. Google Drive, Documents, Presentations, Spreadsheets all are facing downtime. Usually a service outage with one or two apps on Google happens from time to time, it usually does not happen with so many different services.

Here is a screenshot from Google’s app status dashboard.

This outage is affecting not just free services but also Google App accounts, who actually pay to use Google App for work. A major outage for a long time is bound to be be cause some major criticism. That said, Google usually has most services usually boast of over 99% of uptime regularly. But if Google wants more and more people to move to the cloud, downtime for more than an hour could soon be termed unacceptable.

I have personally not encountered any outage on my Google account today but if you have, would love read your comments.

Update: All affected services seem to be up and running now.

How Gmail Evolved Over The Past 9 Years [Infographic]

Remember those early days of Gmail, when they rolled out invites and let everyone who signed up get upto 10 invites initially. This led to the service going viral and helped Gmail drum up a lot of interest in a space totally dominated by the likes of Hotmail and Yahoo Mail.

Gmail had a lot of first, like the offering 1 GB space which went up to 2GB on its first anniversary. Offering threaded conversations, chat messaging, working with your domain name as part of Google Apps offering and introduced two-step verification service and more. Today it is supposed to have over 425 million users.

Here is a infographic that looks back at how Gmail evolved over the past nine years.

Gmail is by far my most favorite service or product by Google with Android running a close second. What are your views on Gmail, do drop in your comments.

(via Gmail Blog)

Related: Tips on reducing your Email load (Infographic)

Google mocks Microsoft and Facebook with an April Fool’s Day Joke called Gmail Blue

Microsoft is planning an update to Windows 8. The first update seems to be called “Blue” in Microsoft internally. This update is expected to fix a lot of issues with Windows 8 and expected by June 2013.

Facebook has also been introducing a new design for feeds and updated search feature called Graph Search. Facebook uses the colour blue a lot on its website’s UI.

Today being 1st of April, Google rolled out a non-existent feature called Gmail Blue.

It suggests that Gmail’s design will be dominated by the colour blue. See the video below that shows how Gmail Blue will takes the service into the 21st century. The funniest part being a project manager at Gmail speaking with a deadpan face that the idea was to completely redesign something while keeping everything the same.

This video seems a poking a bit of fun at Facebook’s design and also Windows 8 upgrade being called Blue. Jokes apart, Gmail today turned nine years old. It was launched on invitation only basis on 1st April 2004.

So who do you think Google was mocking? Facebook or Microsoft? Do drop in your comments.

Insert Your Signature into a Gmail Attachment With a Single Click

Usually signing documents online is a very tedious process. For example, someone wants your signature scanned on a document. Ideally you have to download the document as an attachment from your email account. Then we take a print out of the document and put a signature on it. Finally, we have to scan the same document and send it back.

HelloSign allows users to do this in an automated way. It works well on Chrome if you add their extension.

How HelloSign Works:

  • First log-in to your Gmail account and also install the HelloSign Chrome extension.
  • Then you will have to create an account with HelloSign. You can also use your Google account to simply sign up.
  • Enter a specimen of your signature and save it.
  • Now when you check your Gmail attachments it gives your an additional option to ‘Sign’.

  • This will open up pop-up that allows you to insert your saved signature into the attachment.

  • This inserted signature then is saved on your attachment. Send the attachment back to the person who needs your signature on a document.

This works great to insert not just signatures but also your initials. Additionally this is good for the environment as you do not have to take out printouts just to sign a document and scan it to send it back.

Do you know of any other similar services? Do drop in your comments.

Link: Hello Sign Extension

Google introduces floating Compose window in Gmail

When composing a new E-mail, or replying to one, there will be times when you want to refer to previous E-mails and you’ll find yourself switching between previous E-mails and the one you’re writing.

Google has today rolled out an update for Gmail users, which aims to solve this. Enter the floating Compose window.

When I logged into my Gmail account today, I got an invitation to try out the new way of composing E-mails. Look out for that.

The new Compose window is more like a condensed/stripped version of the original. It looks very similar to Google Talk (or Tasks for that matter) in minimized mode.

The biggest advantage is of course the ability to browse your Gmail while still composing the E-mail.

The reply feature too is streamlined and looks pretty similar to the Compose feature.

If you’ve tried out the feature and didn’t like it, you can always switch back to previous version of Compose and reply features. To do that, hit the triangle icon beside the trash can icon in Compose window – and hit ‘Switch back to Old compose’. Users can now also set Old Compose layout as the default one.

Personally, I think the update is pretty cool, as I myself have never used all those features in old Compose/reply’s editing mode.

Do you like Gmail being simplified more and more? Tell us what you think.

Save Gmail Attachments to SkyDrive in a Single Click

A few weeks ago we wrote about saving your Gmail links automatically to a Google Drive. But if you are using Windows, chances are you might be interested in Microsoft’s cloud offering SkyDrive.

Microsoft is collaborating with Attachements.me for allowing users to upload or download attachments files from their SkyDrive account to Gmail.

How it works:

  • Download and install the Attachments.me browser extensions from here. It works with Firefox and Chrome.
  • The service will prompt you to connect your Gmail account to SkyDrive account.

  • Now you can use files from SkyDrive while sending emails.

  • You can also download your attachments directly to SkyDrive.

I prefer having SkyDrive installed on my computer too, so the saved attachments are available locally.

Do drop in your comments.

Link: Attachments.me for SkyDrive

Use Gmail’s Canned Response Feature on Your Android Phone

If you are using Gmail for managing your work like I do, then you might have heard about Gmail’s canned response feature. It is a feature which allows users to send a pre-defined reply to similar emails.

For example, if someone asks for my contact details via email, I usually reply with a canned message. It saves me time and does not require me to type the same email over and over again.

Unfortunately, canned response feature is not available on my Android phone’s Gmail app.

Thankfully now there is an Android App which allows users to copy to clipboard the canned message and paste it in while replying on the Gmail app.

How Gmail Canned Reponses works!

  • Download Gmail Canned Responses on your Android phone from this link.
  • The app will prompt you to use OAuth authentication to get connected with your Gmail account, where you have stored your Canned responses.
  • Now a list of your canned responses will show up on the app. Select one from the list and the message is copied to the clipboard of your phone.
  • Now go back to using your Gmail App and while replying, and paste the canned response.

Unfortunately, canned response is still a feature in Labs section of Gmail preferences. This means it is still a beta product and that explains why it has not been yet included in the official Android app for Gmail.

Try out Canned Responses and drop in your comments.

Link: Canned Gmail Responses (Android)

Related: Check out 10 Gmail Tips 

Enable Gmail’s New Multiple Account Login Page

If you are a regular Gmail user, chances are you have more than one account. We can toggle between multiple Gmail accounts by using Google accounts manager. But recently as reported by The Next Web, Gmail is showing up a new login page to manage multiple sign-in in a more user friendly way. I managed to enable Gmail Multiple account login page for my browser and you can see the result below.

How to Enable Multiple Accounts on the Login Page

  • While you are log into your account, make sure you select “stay signed in” checkbox.
  • You can enable the feature by visiting this page.
  • Next time you visiting your sign-in page for Gmail, it will show another account you can add. If you add they will also show at the login screen.
Security Tip: Do not enable this option while accessing your account from a public or shared computer.

Do drop in your comments and views.

Link: Google’s Account Chooser

Is Google’s Experiment of Gmail in Search Results a Bad Idea?

Google is testing out a new feature, which is going to attract a lot of criticism and attention form privacy pundits. The new search experiment will show Gmail results on the main Google search page.

See the image below, it is an example of the new experiment. The search results show up as usual, but a drop down on the right-hand side shows results from Gmail.

The idea has a few people getting anxious about it being a major privacy issues. If people perceive it in a negative way, it might end up being a bad idea for Google. But I think showing as much information on the search page is actually a great idea.

Why showing Gmail in Search Results is a Great Idea!

Firstly, lets talk about privacy. The users have to be signed into their Gmail account while searching. Also I doubt, Gmail will show the results without giving users a choice.

Also the results will be shown in a toggle format, which will allow you to see the results only when you want them to be shown on the results page.

Google is basically trying to get all their products to work with their search page. It means being able to search the internet and your personal e-mail from a single source. I think it already shows results from maps and social (Google+) in the search page.

If you are interested in trying out for the new experiment, you can visit their Gmail Field Trial landing page.

I have opted in but the feature is still not switched on for me. When it does, I will surely write a follow up post and then maybe write about privacy concerns if there are any. 😉

What are your views? Do you think showing email on the Google search page is a bad idea? Do drop in your comments.

Link: Gmail Field Trial

5 Reasons Outlook.com Will Not be a Gmail killer

Last week, when Microsoft removed the covers of its new email service called Outlook, it has won many praises (including from yours truly) for it’s minimalist design. The service claims to have better spam fighting mechanism along with better controls for managing emails.

It seemed like Microsoft has a real winner on its hands and it could hurt Gmail badly. I thought a bit about the possibility of Outlook.com ever coming close to being a Gmail killer. These are five reasons why I think Outlook.com will not be a threat the Gmail.

#1. Email is not a Social Network

Five years ago, I had email addresses of my friends from my childhood. But we hardly connected as such via email and most of our interaction was done through Orkut, which was the most popular social network in India at that point of time. Most of us have simply stopped using Orkut and are now on Facebook. But guess what we have not changed, it is our email service providers.

People do not dump their email service as easily as they might do with social networks.

#2. Better Design is not Better Service

Outlook.com does have a great design and UI. But that does not automatically mean better service. Gmail has “undo send”, “desktop notifications” and along with dozens of under the hood features, makes it a very powerful service to manage email.

Outlook.com has some improved features like spam filters and newsletter management, but it is still not tired and tested. Some might argue that Hotmail has great anti-spam and email features, but if it did, why is Microsoft trying out a completely new approach to email?

#3. Microsoft did not create Hotmail

Microsoft did not create its email offerings with from the ground up. They bought into the business by get Hotmail for a price tag of $400 million. Microsoft has never really took the internet very seriously, it was still offering 2 MB free space when, Gmail came to the party with 1GB free space for email.

It also underestimated the importance of search on the web and possibly surrendered many advantages to Yahoo and Google subsequently. Microsoft just might not have it in their DNA to get web, sort of like how Google does not get social.

#4. Gmail is too important for Google

Gmail is 8 years old and people who used Google, never did it by signing into their website. Today, most times when I am using search, I am logged into my Google account. Google can track your search queries and tally it to your Google account, allowing it to give you better results. Why does everyone have a Google account? It is because of everyone has a Gmail account..

#5.  Email might be dying

Remember all those internet memes, jokes and funny photos that were circulated by your friends and family on email. Today, this part of the interaction and sharing is happening on social networks. Even companies are trying out various techniques to reduce the email workload, so their employees have more time to do the really important things. In other words, email might be dying and could become irrelevant in the next 5 or 10 years. Microsoft’s Outlook.com might be great but it might be arriving to the party so late, that it might be arriving after the party.

I left out technical comparisons between Outlook and Gmail for the main reason, that technical options usually do not prompt one to change their email service. Outlook.com is on the right track with social integration, which might attract users from the under-20 age group, who usually are more prone to adopt newer email services.