Google has added new tools to its Gmail inbox, allowing users to perform actions on their emails without leaving the inbox interface.
Gmail action buttons include tasks such as replying to event invites and checking into flights simply by clicking on a button placed on an email from the inbox view, instead of opening an email and then being directed to an external website.
The new tools were first announced in May, giving developers time to incorporate the code required into their automated email systems. Companies such as cloud storage firm Dropbox and US-based food ordering firm Seamless have already added action buttons to their emails for services including Google Drive and YouTube.
For developers, Google suggests actions such as playing a video, leaving a review (with customisable ratings) and RSVPing, which is not dissimilar to the calendar invite standard currently used by most email clients.
While an improvement to user experience, requiring fewer clicks for common tasks, some firms may prefer users to visit their websites instead of having an entire task be handed through Gmail. Furthermore, Gmail's action buttons are relatively simplistic, meaning complex tasks such as checking in for a flight and choosing seats cannot be performed from the inbox. Instead, airlines can choose to add a "check-in" button to the email, which immediately sends users to their check-in page.
Google's push to take Gmail further away from traditional email has both fans and detractors, with most negative feedback going the way of its advertising technology, which shows adverts based on the contents of a user's inbox.
Nevertheless, as the first email provider to offer such a service, Google has set the standard for this kind of functionality, meaning other free email services such as Yahoo and Microsoft Outlook will have a hard time convincing developers to write yet more code for their own versions.
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