I thought I'd wait a little bit before talking about Gmail.
As a lot of bloggers got free Gmail accounts they all talked about it at once. So I thought I'd wait :)
I have been using gmail for a while now, and really really like it. I don't even notice the ads, and I don't talk about anything sensitive enough
That I really care about google analyzing it. The best features are labels, and searching.
Labels are a little bit like folders, they help you sort and categorize your email. The advantage of labels is that the same email can have more than one label.
Labels work very well with Gmail's archive feature. They way I have been using them is to apply labels to emails I might want to find again, and then archiving them.
The emails stay under the label, and are very easy to find. If you were a very busy user who had enough email that you wanted to remove things from under you label, but still be able to find them, It would be good to be able to archive with label attached. Perhaps an archive from label button...
Normally when you want to search for an email it takes ages for the program sort through the data, but as Gmail indexes all your emails, It can instantly recall anything you want.
Also it searches all your email an once, no longer do you have to rerun searches in different folders to find the right thing. Of course you can restrict your searches to certain labels, and to key words in the subject vs. the body etc.
I have heard people talk about a theoretical filesystem where you don't store files in directories you just attach meta data, and search for it.
Having seen gmail, I not only think that it is possible I really wish to had it.
Although I love Gmail, I do have some Ideas for improvements.
I have submitted most of these to the gmail team so It will be interesting to see if any show up soon.
1) Spam/Not Spam marking in filters. If Gmail's spam filter decides an email is spam, it puts it in the spam folder.
Emails in the spam folder can have labels attached, but they don't show up under the label buttons. The spam folder doesn't give you any indication
that you have received any new spam, therefore if a message is misclassified it might go unnoticed. I think the best way to get around this problem would
be to allow filters to mark email as Spam, or as not spam. Thus you could make sure the important emails didn't get missed.
An indication somewhere of how many new "spam" messages have arrived (since last login?) would be useful.
2) I am sure everyone has talked about this, and the gmail team is working on it, but it would be nice to be able to merge conversations that gmail has missed.
They could also use this information to improve the automatic conversation merging feature.
3) Altogether the search function is brilliant, I often find my search results are cluttered up with emails that I have sent. It would be nice to be able to search just the received mail.
In the meantime, you can get around this by typing in your gmail address in to field, as all the received email comes to you :) However your email might have been in the cc or bcc fields, and you will get any emails that you sent your self. (yes I do send my self emails :)
4) Even though gmail focuses on searching not sorting, sometimes its good to be able to sort search results. You might like to reverse sort the arrival time, or sort by senders name so that you can easily access the different emails from that person. You could add that person's name to your search, but it's easier to just click 1 button. And if you are anything like you probably can't spell their name.
5) If gmail could add in a google style spell checker to the search it would be helpful.
Try it out
I still have a couple of gmail invitations if you want to try it out. Just send an email to email@example.com and ask for one. First come first served...
Well I just published my gmail address on the net, so It should be interesting to see how the spam checker holds out :)
I am still using my other email address to most of my mail, so if you want to ask me a question, make a suggestion, or anything else please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.