The Iterative Web App: Links Got Shorter and Smarter

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 | 10:03 AM


On April 7th, we announced a new version of Gmail for mobile for iPhone and Android-powered devices. Among the improvements was a complete redesign of the web application's underlying code which allows us to more rapidly develop and release new features that users have been asking for, as explained in our
first post. We'd like to introduce The Iterative Webapp, a series where we will continue to release features for Gmail for mobile. Today: Smart Links.


We all know that on a mobile device, screen space is scarce, so it's not very helpful when I get an email with a long link such as this Google Maps link:



Not only is the link taking up an unnecessarily large amount of space, but it's not easy to find the address that's hidden in the middle of the link. To solve this problem, we now shorten the link and automatically convert raw links into named links, which we call "Smart Links". So instead of seeing that long link to Google Maps, you're going to see the link renamed to the actual address:



Clicking on it still takes you to the same Google Maps page, but now the link is much shorter and the important information is more visible!

Here's a list of links we currently support:
  • Google Maps address queries
  • Google Maps directional queries (with one destination)
  • Google Sites webpages
  • YouTube videos
We're planning to roll out support for more link types, such as Google Docs, so watch for those in your emails. Please note that Smart Links work only in plaintext emails right now.

To try out Gmail for mobile, visit gmail.com in your mobile browser. This version of Gmail for mobile supports iPhone/iPod touch OS 2.2.1 or above, as well as all Android-powered devices, and is available for US English only. To make it easy to access your Gmail account, try creating a home screen link.

One more tip: Label management got easier for Android-powered devices with a physical keyboard. In the "Label as..." menu on the floaty bar, there is now a text box above the list of labels. You can type the name of a label you wish to select into the box rather than clicking on it. As you type, the list filters to show only labels that match what you've typed. We also added more keyboard shortcuts to bring it closer to the Gmail experience on your computer.


by Casey Ho, Software Engineer, Google Mobile

22 comments:

Kip said...

Finally!! Google to the rescue! Thank you!!

Stealthgyro said...

thats cool

Anthony Robertson said...

Nice.

Kerk Korpil said...

That's just great!!!

Any idea of when will you roll out the new interface for non-English versions?

rk said...

I use the gmail app on my blackberry and would love the ability to copy and paste from received messages. C/P works everywhere else on the bberry, why not in the gmail app?

elVasco said...

Nice move, but it's sad when you have a Symbian phone (Nokia 5800) to realize that we are far behind this usability

Santiago L. Valdarrama said...

Cool feature, but if smart links only work with Plain Text emails, then they won't be too much useful. The majority of people use HTML based emails, so this feature will be completely hidden for them (including me).

I'm pretty sure you guys will solve this soon, so I'll stay tunned.

Santiago L. Valdarrama
Funder and CEO at Laura Software
www.laurasoftware.com
Twitter: @svpino

Brad Tumy said...

That's a great feature but how do you verify that the link you receive in the email that is now a "smart" link ... is trustworthy? This seems similar to the issue that Twitter is having with shortened URLs.

Cam said...

sending location links isn't ugly anymore. thanks google!

Ryan said...

how many times can we say "why didn't I think of that?" Google, you're truly innovative. Will you marry me?

James said...

This is not working for me on my iPhone. I've tried single addresses and point to point directions by pasting just the link into an email.

Thomas said...

Nice. You should do that for google talk too.

Lizzy1443 said...

Need Gmail and other google application on windows mobile!!!

Lizzy1443 said...

Need Gmail and other google application on windows mobile!!!

Aneece said...

Yes, please bring a native Gmail app to Windows Mobile or, even better, add Gmail to Google Sync.

Thank you.

Aneece said...

Oh, I have to agree with what Brad Tumy said also. I always cringe whenever I follow a tinyurl link or something similar.

I suppose it's not such a big deal in the mobile arena, however...

Julie said...

I know Symbian phones aren't so popular in the US, and Google obviously want to prioritise Android solutions, but worldwide Symbian outsells iPhones, Blackberries and Android phones put together.

PLEASE can we have an updated Symbian version of gmail? I can't even label messages on my Nokia N97 with the current version.

Julie

Steffen said...

Thanks. Now...what about images in emails in the mobile Gmail app? I still can't see any newsletter.

Olly said...

Hi Guys
These are amazing improvements but I have one question. Will they be refelected in the native Android Gmail app or is the intention to concentrate on the web based app? I still find the Andoid one more convenient in terms of push functionality etc. Amazing work though!

Christoph said...

Come on Google, don't miss out the device with the real innovation:

The Palm Pre !!

Jesse David Hollington said...

Along a similar topic, it would be great if links to messages within GMail saved from the desktop could be opened directly in the Mobile version.

I frequently "bookmark" e-mail messages by pasting the link into the notes in my task management app for later reference. This works great on the desktop, but when I try to open the linked e-mail message on my iPhone, I'm always taken directly to my inbox rather than to the specfic message.

Matt said...

Ability to send email from different addresses like desktop client would be nice