Google improves Gmail contacts manager

It's the component of the webmail service that users dislike the most

Google will roll out on Tuesday enhancements to Gmail's contacts manager, which the company acknowledges has been traditionally the webmail service's weakest link.

Google is confident that the improvements will fix the Gmail contacts manager's damaged reputation and prompt users to give it another chance. The company followed users' feedback when deciding what changes to make.

"The good news is that while many of you haven't been too happy with Contacts, you've also told us what we could do to make it better," wrote Benjamin Grol, a Google product manager, in a blog statement Google provided to IDG News Service prior to its posting. Google later removed this line from the statement, which it posted on the official Gmail blog.

While users of individual Gmail accounts will see the new contacts manager today, people who use Gmail as part of Google Apps will have to wait longer. The improvements will be added to that hosted collaboration and communications suite at a later, unspecified date.

This is unfortunate, according to an analyst. "While it is great that Google is responding to user requests, it is disappointing that the much-needed improvements to the contacts manager don’t yet apply to Google Apps customers -- enterprise users of Google Apps often cite contacts as something they would like to see improved," said Gartner analyst Matt Cain via e-mail.

New features users will find in Gmail's contacts manager include keyboard shortcuts, automatic saving, the ability to sort by last name and an undo option. Also new are a bigger field for notes and what Google calls "structured name fields" for items like people's titles and suffixes.

A tweak to Gmail's layout now simplifies accessing both the contacts and tasks managers, which have been placed more prominently on the top left corner of the interface.

The improvements to the contacts manager will help Gmail better compete against Microsoft's Outlook in the workplace market, since the Microsoft product has very good contact management tools, said analyst Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research.

"I think Google could have benefited users by doing this earlier, but as Gmail moves more into the business space, this is the type of thing they will have to keep doing," Osterman said via e-mail.

Although Outlook and Microsoft Exchange will remain the dominant e-mail platform in the business space over the next several years, Gmail's use is growing, he said. Osterman Research completed a study last week among mid-size and large organizations in North America that shows that penetration of Google Apps in that market will increase from 0.9 percent in 2010 to 3.7 percent in 2012.

"It's still a small share given that Google's market so far has been primarily in the small business space, but this data shows that their penetration in the mid-size and enterprise market is growing," Osterman said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags GmailInternet-based applications and servicesGoogleMailinternet

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?