Friday, March 30, 2012

Suggestions for Improving Google Products

Since Gmail "listened" to my suggestions last time, I figured I would write some more ideas for improving popular Google products:

Gmail -  Email is not just another open tab in someone's browser, but a basic function of the internet. There are many different tasks people switch between while using email, i.e reading, writing and searching. For example I might be writing an email to someone, and realize I need to do an email search to check a previous email I sent. Gmail should allow people to do these different tasks within one Gmail tab so they do not need to  perform these 3 steps each time: create a new tab, go to, and then go to the task they want. At the very least, they should  allow people to perform a search or compose a new email in a new tab, so they don't need to wait for to load before doing what they want.

In the meantime, in Chrome, I can search my Gmail from Chrome's address bar, and I created a bookmark of  the "compose email" page, so I don't need to wait for to load.

Calendar - Similarly, in Google Calendar, it would be nice if you could do everything from the main page. While one can create an event and set the time without going to a new page, it requires an additional click and page load to edit the event details. It would be nice if that could also be done in the same step as adding en event.

Also, the calendar view is restricted to the various styles of traditional dead-tree calendars. However, at the end of a month, most people probably want to see the beginning of the next month rather than the previous 3 weeks. The calendar should allow other weeks to be shown at the top besides the first week in the month. It should also allow one to specify how many weeks they want displayed.

Docs - Speaking of dead-trees, Docs should also let one switch off "page-view" mode. If Desktop Word has a "web layout", shouldn't online Google Docs?  While they let one get rid of the large space between pages, it would be convenient to be able to resize the view to any size, not just the width of a page.

To compete well with Word, I think they will need to provide full offline access, not just view-only mode. Most people don't use the various complexities in Word, so that feature should be enough. (They already offer arguably better sharing and collaboration features.)

Chrome - One thing I miss from Chrome that used to exist on Firefox is ironically the Google Toolbar. One of the main features I liked was the ability to click on Google search keywords to find them in a web result. Chrome has a different option here, but it doesn't let you choose when to view it, so it often fails to show up or just gets in the way. To find a keyword, there's always ctrl-F, but then you have to retype (or paste) the word you're looking for.

Another thing I missed from Firefox was the Smart Bar, which was able to suggest the most-visited websites right when I start typing them. A reader pointed out that this can be enabled in Chrome by making sure your Google account is connected to Chrome in settings. (I hadn't noticed that it had become disconnected when I changed my password a few months ago.)

Although these are mostly minor points, it would be nice if Google implemented some of these features. Maybe I'll mention it to them...


  1. A couple of those already exist...

  2. Well you can popout windows in Gmail for compose. If you sign in on Chrome it works as a smart bar.

  3. thanks for the feedback. you can also drag the email into a new tab, but while im reading one email i need to open a new tab to compose an email and it takes 3 steps to do so (they prevent "compose" from opening in a new tab for some reason).

  4. as for smart bar, it seems my sync had become disabled. i'll re-enable it and see if the suggestions improve. thanks.

  5. yes that seems to have worked. i updated the post. thanks again.