Google launches a lightweight ‘Gmail Go’ app for Android


Google has added a notable addition to its line of “Go” edition apps – the lightweight apps designed primarily for emerging markets – with the launch of Gmail Go. The app, like others in the Go line, takes up less storage space on users’ smartphones and makes better use of mobile data compared with the regular version of Gmail.

The app offers standard Gmail features like multiple account support, conversation view, attachments, and push notifications for new messages. It also prioritizes messages from friends and family first, while categorizing promotional and social emails in separate tabs, as Gmail does.

But like other Go apps, Gmail Go doesn’t consume as much storage space on the device.

In fact, according to numerous reports, Gmail Go clocked in at a 9.51 MB download, and takes up roughly 25 MB of space on a device, compared with Gmail’s 20.66 MB download, and 47 MB storage space.

Google has not made a formal announcement about Gmail Go’s launch, but several sites have spotted its availability on the Google Play store this week. We’ve asked Google for more information about the app’s feature set, and what exactly is it that Go does to reduce the burden on low-end smartphones. The company so far has not responded, but we’ll update this post as more information becomes available.

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However, some early adopters have pointed out that scrolling on Gmail Go is a much more choppy experience than on the standard Gmail. But overall, there doesn’t seem to be too many noticeable differences between the two apps, in terms of feature set.

That’s not always the case with the Go-branded apps. For example, YouTube Go has several unique features, like the ability to download videos for offline viewing, and sharing videos with friends nearby, for example.

Gmail Go is joining a growing list of Go edition apps, including YouTube Go, Files Go, Google Go, Google Maps Go, Google and Assistant Go.

AMP for email is a terrible idea

Google just announced a plan to “modernize” email, allowing “engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences.” Does that sound like a terrible idea to anyone else? It sure sounds like a terrible idea to me, and not only that, but an idea borne out of competitive pressure and existing leverage rather than user needs. Not good, Google. Send to trash.

See, email belongs to a special class. Nobody really likes it, but it’s the way nobody really likes sidewalks, or electrical outlets, or forks. It not that there’s something wrong with them. It’s that they’re mature, useful items that do exactly what they need to do. They’ve transcended the world of likes and dislikes.

As evidence consider the extreme rarity of anything other than normal versions of those things. Moving sidewalks, weirdo outlets, sporks — they only exist in extreme niches like airports and lunchables. The originals have remained unchanged for as long as millennia for a good reason.

Email too is simple. It’s a known quantity in practically every company, household, and device. The implementation has changed over the decades, but the basic idea has remained the same since the very first email systems in the ’60s and ’70s, certainly since its widespread standardization in the ’90s and shift to web platforms in the ’00s. The parallels to snail mail are deliberate (it’s a payload with an address on it) and simplicity has always been part of its design (interoperability and privacy came later).

No company owns it. It works reliably and as intended on every platform, every operating system, every device. That’s a rarity today and a hell of a valuable one.

But the tech industry has never been one to let elegance, history, or interoperability stand in the way of profit (RIP Google Reader), so that’s not much of an argument. Still, I thought it worth saying.

More important are two things: the moat and the motive.

The moat is the one between communications and applications. Communications say things, and applications interact with things. There are crossover areas, but something like email is designed and overwhelmingly used to say things, while websites and apps are overwhelmingly designed and used to interact with things.

It’s fundamentally useful to have a divide here the way it’s useful to have a divide between a book about fire and a book of matches.

Emails are static because messages are meant to be static. The entire concept of communication via the internet is based around the telegraphic model of exchanging one-way packets with static payloads, the way the entire concept of a fork is based around piercing a piece of food and allowing friction to hold it in place during transit.

The moat between communication and action is important because it makes it very clear what certain tools are capable of, which in turn lets them be trusted and used properly.

We know that all an email can ever do is say something to you (tracking pixels and read receipts notwithstanding). It doesn’t download anything on its own, it doesn’t run any apps or scripts, attachments are discrete items, unless they’re images in the HTML, which is itself optional. Ultimately the whole package is always just going to be a big , static chunk of text sent to you, with the occasional file riding shotgun. Open it a year or ten from now and it’s the same email.

And that proscription goes both ways. No matter what you try to do with email, you can only ever say something with it — with another email.

If you want to do something, you leave the email behind and do it on the other side of the moat.

This is the great genius and curse of email, that all you can do is send messages back and forth. It’s not always the best option, but it’s rarely the worst. If it’s more complicated than that, you use something other than email: a chat app, a video call, a file host. These useful items are often located adjacent to email, sometimes closely integrated, but they’re never actually part of it. This is a good thing. The closest you get is little things like adding something automatically to your calendar or scraping flight info from an itinerary. Ultimately it’s still just reading something.

What Google wants to do is bridge that moat, essentially to allow applications to run inside emails, limited ones to be sure, but by definition the kind of thing that belongs on the other side of the moat.

Why do this? Are we running out of tabs? Were people complaining that clicking “yes” on an RSVP email took them to the invitation site? Were they asking to have a video chat window open inside the email with the link? No. No one cares. No one is being inconvenienced by this aspect of email (inbox overload is a different problem), and no one will gain anything by changing it.

Well, almost no one. Which brings us to the motive.

AMP is, to begin with, Google exerting its market power to extend its control over others’ content. Facebook is doing it, so Google has to. Using its privileged position as the means through which people find a great deal of content, Google is attempting to make it so that the content itself must also be part of a system it has defined.

“AMP started as an effort to help publishers, but as its capabilities have expanded over time, it’s now one of the best ways to build rich webpages,” it writes in the blog post announcing the AMP for Gmail test. No, it isn’t. AMP is a way to adapt and deliver, on Google’s terms, real webpages built with real tools.

The excuse that the mobile web isn’t fast enough is threadbare, and the solution of a special Google-designed sub-web transparently self-serving. It’s like someone who sells bottled water telling you your tap runs too slow.

AMP for email is just an extension of that principle. People leave Gmail all the time to go to airline webpages, online shops, social media, and other places. Places that have created their own user environments, with their own analytics, their own processes that may or may not be beneficial or even visible to Google. Can’t have that!

But if these everyday tasks take place inside Gmail, Google exerts control over the intimate details, defining what other companies can and can’t do inside the email system — rather than using the natural limitations of email, which I hasten to reiterate are a feature, not a bug.

And as if that play wasn’t enough, the other one is as baldly avaricious as anything the company has ever done. Dynamic content in emails. Where have I heard that one before? That’s right: it’s Google’s entire business model for offering a free email service. Ads.

What is the vast majority of “live” content on the web, stuff that needs to call home and update itself? Not articles like this one, or videos or songs — those are just resources you request. Not chats or emails. Cloud-based productivity tools like shared documents, sure, granted. But the rest — and we’re talking like 99.9 percent here — is ads.

Ads and trackers that adapt themselves to the content around them, the data they know about the viewer, and the latest pricing or promotions. That’s how Google wants to “modernize” your inbox.

Does “engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences” ring a little different now?

Don’t use this. Don’t encourage it. AMP and other initiatives like it are already a blight on the web, and they will be equally bad for email.

Featured Image: HeiroGraphic/Shutterstock

Google wants to use AMP to make email more interactive


Google’s AMP format has always been about making mobile pages render faster. But Google is now taking it beyond posts, recipes and how-to articles. First, the company launched the new AMP story format earlier today and now it’s also announcing a preview of AMP for Email.

At first, that may seem like an odd combination, especially given that few people complain about how slowly their emails render (they are mostly text, after all). Google argues that AMP is the right format to modernize email, though. “Many people rely on email for information about flights, events, news, purchases and beyond—more than 270 billion emails are sent each day,” Gmail product manager Aarash Sahney writes today. “With AMP for Email, it’s easy for information in email messages to be dynamic, up-to-date and actionable.”

Using AMP for Email, developers will be able to add an interactive calendar to your email, for example, so you don’t have to go through five rounds of back-and-forth messages to find a meeting time. Similarly, a message from your airline could show you up-to-date flight information or a marketer could send you a survey that you can fill out right in your inbox without having to go to another site.

Over the years, Google has launched numerous projects to modernize email. Back in 2013, for example, it launched customizable action buttons in Gmail. For the most part, though, emails haven’t really changed and every new format can only succeed if enough of Google’s competitors support it.

For now, AMP for Email is only available to developers who request preview access. The plan is to roll support out to Gmail later this year.

Google wants to use AMP to make email more interactive


Google’s AMP format has always been about making mobile pages render faster. But Google is now taking it beyond posts, recipes and how-to articles. First, the company launched the new AMP story format earlier today and now it’s also announcing a preview of AMP for Email.

At first, that may seem like an odd combination, especially given that few people complain about how slowly their emails render (they are mostly text, after all). Google argues that AMP is the right format to modernize email, though. “Many people rely on email for information about flights, events, news, purchases and beyond—more than 270 billion emails are sent each day,” Gmail product manager Aarash Sahney writes today. “With AMP for Email, it’s easy for information in email messages to be dynamic, up-to-date and actionable.”

Using AMP for Email, developers will be able to add an interactive calendar to your email, for example, so you don’t have to go through five rounds of back-and-forth messages to find a meeting time. Similarly, a message from your airline could show you up-to-date flight information or a marketer could send you a survey that you can fill out right in your inbox without having to go to another site.

Over the years, Google has launched numerous projects to modernize email. Back in 2013, for example, it launched customizable action buttons in Gmail. For the most part, though, emails haven’t really changed and every new format can only succeed if enough of Google’s competitors support it.

For now, AMP for Email is only available to developers who request preview access. The plan is to roll support out to Gmail later this year.

Google wants to use AMP to make email more interactive


Google’s AMP format has always been about making mobile pages render faster. But Google is now taking it beyond posts, recipes and how-to articles. First, the company launched the new AMP story format earlier today and now it’s also announcing a preview of AMP for Email.

At first, that may seem like an odd combination, especially given that few people complain about how slowly their emails render (they are mostly text, after all). Google argues that AMP is the right format to modernize email, though. “Many people rely on email for information about flights, events, news, purchases and beyond—more than 270 billion emails are sent each day,” Gmail product manager Aarash Sahney writes today. “With AMP for Email, it’s easy for information in email messages to be dynamic, up-to-date and actionable.”

Using AMP for Email, developers will be able to add an interactive calendar to your email, for example, so you don’t have to go through five rounds of back-and-forth messages to find a meeting time. Similarly, a message from your airline could show you up-to-date flight information or a marketer could send you a survey that you can fill out right in your inbox without having to go to another site.

Over the years, Google has launched numerous projects to modernize email. Back in 2013, for example, it launched customizable action buttons in Gmail. For the most part, though, emails haven’t really changed and every new format can only succeed if enough of Google’s competitors support it.

For now, AMP for Email is only available to developers who request preview access. The plan is to roll support out to Gmail later this year.

That time I got locked out of my Google account for a month

How much of your digital life would you lose if you lost a single password? Without it, you are locked out and the cold reality of using free cloud services like Google is that you don’t have a human arbiter to help you. If you think back to earlier times where, say you lost your bank book, your local banker probably knew who you were and could help you navigate the process of getting it replaced. When you lose your password, it’s not that simple — as I found out.

Imagine you have spent much of your digital life for the last 12 years on Google. You rely on their, mail and calendar, Google Drive for storage and Google Photos for your photo archive. Then imagine that one day, you get locked out after forgetting your password.

That’s what happened to me.

Who are you?

About a month ago, I went to sign into Google. I use different passwords all the time and I forgot which one I had used most recently for Google. I clicked ‘Forgot Password’ as I always had. I was asked to send a confirmation to my phone they had on file. I did that. I responded and was asked to send a confirmation code to my email. I did that and entered the code. I was asked to answer a security question. I answered it.

At that point, you would think I had done more than enough to prove that I was who I said I was. I had supplied, not one, not two, but three factors of identification, but this was not enough for Google for some reason.

I was asked to enter the most recent password I remembered. I did that. I was asked when I first opened my account. I have no idea to be honest and it’s kind of a weird security requirement because seriously, who is going to remember when they opened their Google account to the month if it was over a decade ago? It’s not information people typically keep.

I got to the end of the process expecting to be asked for a new password. I was told I was locked out and I would have to make a request to Google to get in. I followed the procedure, waited for several days (a lifetime without access to my email, calendar, documents) and I was told I was rejected.

I’m not sure how many ways you have to identify yourself to satisfy Google, but apparently all the ways I had supplied weren’t enough. There was nothing in the email about any recourse. I was simply locked out.

No where to run to, baby

I was at an impasse and not sure what to do, but use my contacts as a journalist. If I hadn’t been a journalist with such contacts, I’m not sure what I would have done, but I had them and I used them hoping to resolve this quickly. As it turned out, it would not be quick at all.

On December 5th, I sent a note to a PR contact who I work with on Google-related news and I told him about my problem. He said he had gotten my case escalated and I should hear within 24 hours.

On Dec 7th after not hearing from Google, I contacted him again and he gave me this procedure to try, which was pretty much the same procedure I had tried before:

  • Visit https://accounts.google.com/signin/recovery
  • Enter Username
  • Click on “Try a different question” at every step until they reach the question “When did you create this Google Account?”
  • Select approximate date when the account was created and click “Next”
  • Enter any contact email address that they have access to and finish the whole verification process.
  • Please ensure that regardless of whether the user knows the answer to the questions or not, they complete answering all the questions till the end. Completing the account recovery process, will create a case for us to work with.

I dutifully did this and once again got a message that Google couldn’t verify the account.

Five days later I still hadn’t heard anything, so on December 12th I contacted my PR friend again, who at this point had to be getting pretty tired of being my go-between. He did his thing and told me that the reset link was being sent to an alternative address of mine.

I got an email from Google later in the day, which I shared with my PR contact:

Hi there,

Here at Google, we’re constantly trying to provide you the best customer support experience.

You recently contacted our support team to regain access to your Google account. Since then, have you been able to successfully sign back into your account?

The choices were Yes/No. I chose No and asked for a new reset command.


The Reset command never came.

Help me if you can I’m feeling down

On December 13th I tried getting in touch with Google by Twitter, posting my case number and pleading for some help. None came.