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Is Google Launching a Competitor for Facebook/Twitter?
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Google is rumored to be working on a Facebook/Twitter-like feature for Gmail. According to the Wall Street Journal, who cites "people familiar with the matter", the feature, which would "make it easier and faster" to share status updates may launch as soon as this week.

Gmail Search Becomes More Like Google Search

Last year, Google released a Gmail Labs feature that added a search box for regular Google Search within Gmail. The lab is simply called Google search. However, it didn’t provide all of the features that the real Google search does. They have now taken steps to improve the feature’s capabilities in the following areas:

Google Turns to Your Past Emails to Make Ads More Relevant
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Google has made some changes to the way ads shown to Gmail users are selected. If you use the service, you have probably noticed that Google often shows ads that are somehow related to the content of whatever piece of email you are currently reading. If you have noticed this, you have probably also noticed that sometimes the ads don’t seem to have anything to do with your conversation whatsoever.

Gmail and Picasa Storage Can Be Used for Any File
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Google recently announced that it was launching a new feature for Google Docs, which would allow users to upload and store any kind of file. What may not have been clear, however, is that this new storage from Google isn’t limited to just Google Docs.

The company is saying that Gmail and Picasa storage can also be used. Google Docs Product Marketing Manager Peter Harbison writes:

Gmail Switches to Default Https Encryption Following Attack
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As news of Google’s China situation dominates headlines, the company has also announced that it is turning on https access for Gmail as the default (Gmail accounts were hacked in China, in case you haven’t read about that yet).

Https, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure is used to provide encryption and secure ID. Back in 2008 Google started giving users the option to use it.

Google May Quit China
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Google released a stunning blog post that details a "sophisticated and targeted attack" on Gmail that "resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google".

Google notes that the attack was not just on Google infrastructure but also on more than twenty other companies from various industries. Google states that they are working with the authorities in the U.S. and will be notifying the companies of the breaches.

Compete Documents Hotmail Dominance

If you ever set out to collect personal email addresses at a tech gathering, here’s a tip: generally speaking, you can save time by typing or writing out the "@gmail" part before approaching people.  But Compete provided a bit of a reality check today by showing that Hotmail remains in the top spot overall.

10 Reasons Social Media isn’t Replacing Email
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Update: VerticalResponse CEO Janine Popick has written a separate piece adding 10 more reasons.

Google Adds Way to Easily Merge Duplicate Contacts in Gmail
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Google has added a feature to Gmail, which allows users to merge all of their duplicate contacts into one. Until now, users have had to go through contacts one-by-one in order to clean up their list.

"Managing a big address book can be a challenge, so it’s no surprise that the top request for Google contacts is a fast, easy way to merge duplicate contacts," says software engineer for Gmail, Dominik Marcinski.

Offline Use Now Part of Everybody’s Gmail
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Gmail’s offline feature has graduated from Gmail Labs, and is now a full-blown feature of Google’s email service. The feature emerged as a lab experiment nearly a year ago, but it has now been deemed ready for primetime.

Gmail Gives Users New Default Text Styling Feature

Google has introduced a new Gmail Labs feature, which gives Gmail users control over the default style of their text. In other words, you can set how you like your text to appear normally, and it will automatically appear that way.

Gmail Lets You Send Attachments While Offline
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Google has introduced a feature that lets you send attachments in Gmail while you’re offline. It works the same way as it would online, except that you can’t include inline images.

Google Makes the Cloud Cheaper

Gmail used to offer a gigabyte of storage to new users, but now it offers at least seven gigs. Picasa comes with a gig. Sometimes that’s not enough. While Google has offered the ability to pay for additional storage, the company has now reduced the prices for it.

Rapleaf Looks At Age, Gender Of Email Users
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It’s often interesting to learn about a product or service’s users – particularly when you are one.  Maybe you’ll find that your stylish small car is popular with old ladies, for example.  Or that your taste in TV shows mirrors that of eight-year-old boys.  Anyway, Rapleaf recently took a look at this concept as it applies to email.

Google Adds Google Docs Previews to Gmail
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It seems like just yesterday we were talking about how email was improving. Google has now added a feature to Gmail that lets you preview the contents of Google Docs documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in your inbox.

Gmail Aims to Save Embarrassment Yet Again
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Google has launched a new feature in Gmail Labs designed to spare users the embarrassment of sending an email to the wrong person. It’s probably happened to you at one time or another.

Gmail Gets a New Label Feature
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Today Google introduced a new Gmail Labs feature, which lets users hide labeled messages that have already been read, when browsing through labels. The ones that have been read can be found under the "more" menu.

"A lot of people want to see their labels in order to see which ones have unread messages, but they don’t want a long list of label names cluttering up the left hand side of their inboxes," says Gmail software engineer David de Kloet.

Gmail Users Experience Another Hiccup
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Some Gmail users have been experiencing yet another instance of the service being down. This seems to be happening quite a bit lately, and at a particularly odd and unfortunate time for Google, as the company has recently increased its efforts to push Google Apps on Businesses.

Right now, when I log into Gmail I get the following message:

Gmail unable to access contacts

Get Gmail Messages Pushed to Your iPhone
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Back in February Google launched the beta version of Google Sync. This allowed Google users to sync their Gmail contacts and Google Calendar events to their iPhones or Windows Mobile devices (Android already synced data). The feature did not come with the ability to sync actual mail, however. That has now changed.

The addition of "push Gmail" support has been a heavily requested feature ever since Google Sync was launched.

Play Google Voice Messages Right in Gmail
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Google has launched a new feature in Gmail labs that allows you to play Google Voice voicemails right from Gmail. Before, when Google Voice users received email notifications from Google Voice, they had to click a link in the message to open a new page.

Four New Gmail Themes Released
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Gmail users who require that everything be just so may be in luck; a few new personalization opportunities have been made available in the form of four new themes.  And in fact, one of the four themes caters to indecisive types, so members of the Gmail team really covered their bases.

All right, we admit it – these Gmail themes aren’t going to generate Google’s next billion dollars.  In all likelihood, they won’t even convince more than one or two souls (if that) to switch from Hotmail or Yahoo Mail.