Should you let Gmail take care of business?
Given Google’s near domination of the internet with its search engine, it was perhaps inevitable that its email service would also enjoy considerable popularity. Over half a billion people now have a Gmail account, despite the fact that rival services from Yahoo and AOL were respectively established seven years and twelve years earlier. Even though people rarely change their email accounts, Gmail overtook Hotmail as the leading email provider back in 2012 and has continued to increase this lead ever since, although Microsoft’s rival package has retained hundreds of millions of loyal users since its debut in 1991.
Launched on April 1st 2004, Gmail offered solutions to common problems faced by many email users at the time. While other providers offered limited archive space for attachments and messages, Google gave each user a gigabyte of storage at a time when space-hungry high definition content was still rare. The auto-save email function was pioneering, and Gmail was designed for mobile use long before smartphone access really existed.
Fast forward to 2015, and Gmail has continued to advance. It now integrates seamlessly with other Google services, from search engine results to cloud storage. Its spam filter is industry-leading, and Gmail’s 15GB of storage (in tandem with Google Drive and Google+) is hugely impressive for a completely free service. Premium accounts offer up to 1TB of storage, although these do incur a monthly fee. It doesn’t even matter if someone confuses an email with the gmail.com or googlemail.com suffix – either will be safely delivered to the same inbox.
Gmail has received plenty of criticism over the years for its popularity among spammers. Google’s policy of scanning sent and received messages and using the data to direct adverts at individuals has come in for deserved condemnation in today’s increasingly privacy-aware society.
The mechanics of Gmail also leaves some users alienated. Mobile apps include folders for Receipts and Travel-related emails, which seems like a curious attempt at mimicking Outlook’s popular PST folders. The compulsory sub-division of messages into Primary, Social and Promotions folders may have made sense when Google+ was still seen as a potential Facebook rival, but having to constantly tab between different folders is more of a drawback than an advantage.
One of Gmail’s attributes is the number of features incorporated into it. For example, unauthorised access can be identified by looking up the last time a particular email account was accessed, by whom and on what device/IP address. The Boomerang plug-in allows messages to be dispatched at a specific point in the future, and the Vacation Responder feature is a superb Out Of Office service.
Gmail Offline is available through Google’s Chrome browser, enabling archived messages to be viewed without any internet connection, handy if you need to check something where no WiFi is available. Chrome users can also drag and drop attachments directly into messages, and new email notifications can be flagged up for single-click opening.
Finally, the ability to tab between different Gmail accounts on any device means the Gmail app or webmail page can act as a single point of contact for professional and personal messages simultaneously, making it great for business and personal endeavours alike!