The Gmail developers pride themselves on providing an efficient and user-friendly email interface to their users and it’s with this goal in mind that they’ve revamped the compose/reply feature of their popular email service.
To appreciate the new interface change, we need only examine the current, soon-to-be-forgotten interface and its inefficient, clunky compose/reply feature that’s reminiscent of single-window, tabless browsers and other relics that are now six feet under in the technological burial ground.
When you’re composing a new email message or replying to one you’ve received, you want easy access to your other email messages for reference; you want easy monitoring of your inbox; and if you’re particularly ambitious, you may even want easy switching among the multiple messages you’re writing. With an email interface based on the single-window concept, as the current one is, all of this becomes a morass of mouse clicks and error-prone operations.
The new interface, on the other hand, boasts an efficient, streamlined compose/reply feature that’s reminiscent of instant messaging. You get effortless multitasking.
With the new interface, the compose and reply windows pop up like a chat window, giving you convenient access to and high visibility of your inbox and other folders. And just as a chat client allows you to interact with multiple chat windows strewn across your screen real estate, Gmail allows you to work on multiple compose and reply windows without any one window hogging your screen.
There are quite a few surprises, including intelligently expanding windows; auto-hiding controls; easily inserted inline images; pictures of contacts in autocomplete to facilitate recipient identification; drag-and-drop recipient chips that you can move to the CC/BCC fields if desired; text-formatting keyboard shortcuts; and draft auto-saving that occurs both when you’re writing and when you minimize or close a message window.
The new compose/reply feature is already available as an optional preview for users to try. To enable it, click the ‘Compose‘ button, and then click the “new compose experience” link next to the ‘Labels‘ button at the top of the message window. If you change your mind and want to revert to the old compose/reply feature, click the ‘Compose‘ button, click the downward-pointing arrow at the bottom corner of the message window, and then click “Switch back to old compose.”
In the coming months, the new compose/reply feature will completely replace the old one for all users.