Wednesday 6 February 2013

Gmail users in India get Google+ Hangouts

Google+ Hangouts is now available to all Gmail users in India. Google+ Hangouts allows Gmail users to add up to 9 people to a voice chat. Using Hangouts, Gmail users can watch YouTube videos with their friends, collaborate on Google Docs, or play games by adding apps from a menu. Those with a slow connection can opt for the 'Low Bandwidth' mode.

To begin using Google+ Hangouts, you have to click the Hangout button on the top of the chat list in Gmail. Users can also schedule a hangout using Google Calendar.

Google hasn't been lazy with rolling out updates and improving the user experience on Gmail. Following a recent update, Gmail gave users the ability to add labels and stars to their messages right in the new compose box. To star a message or label it, you will have to click on the 'More' options menu at the bottom right and hover on the Label option there.

Google redesigned Gmail's Compose window in October last year. The compose box opens just like a chat window would, but is a bit larger. Phil Sharp, Google’s Product Manager, stated that with this new design, it was possible to keep the compose mail box open and still look for older mails for reference. This way, users can also keep an eye out for newer mails. Sharp said, “The new compose is designed to let you focus on what's important: your message.”

In December last year, Google gave a facelift to its native app on iOS with the launch of Gmail 2.0. The sleeker, feature-rich new app seemed to be almost at par with Gmail’s Android app. "With version 2.0 of the app, you'll get a totally new look and feel, plus a bunch of improvements like profile pictures in messages, numerous new animations from swivels to transitions and infinite scrolling in the message lists,” said Google in a blog post announcing the new version.

Gmail’s update for iOS came only a little while after the Android version was updated with new features and bug fixes. The update brought image thumbnails inside messages, the ability to swipe to archive or delete, and let you attach images and videos from within the message.

It looks like Google has been trying to step up its game after Microsoft’s newly revamped started luring Gmail users with more features and a clutter-free mobile UI. Microsoft stated in December 2012 that had 28 million active users. The company also claimed to have invited a panel of Gmail users to try out its services, and said four out of five users of the Google mail service said they would want to switch.

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