Monday, November 29, 2021

Gmail’s upcoming iOS widget could actually be useful

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Google announced it’s updating the Gmail iOS widget with a new one that’s actually useful, showing you the subjects and senders of the emails sitting in your inbox. The company says the new widget will be “launching in the next few weeks,” to replace the previous version that wasn’t particularly well-received. This also means that, as 9to5Google points out, this means that Gmail’s iOS widget will have the same functionality as the current Android one.

When the first version of the Gmail widget launched, we pointed out that it isn’t particularly helpful. It really only provides shortcuts to different screens on the app like your inbox and the email composer. Critically, it doesn’t actually show you much information about the emails you’ve received, though it does tell you how many are sitting unread in your inbox.

The old widget can only take to to the app’s search, compose, and inbox screen.

Part of the old widget’s lack of functionality was due to Apple’s limitations. You’re currently not allowed to build interactivity into your widget, and any tapping the user does has to be handled by launching the app. Those rules haven’t substantially changed since the first widget was introduced, but the new design shows that there’s still room for useful information. You may not be able to archive an email from your home screen, for example, but you’ll at least be able to get a feel for what’s waiting in your inbox.

Google also says it’s updating Google Sheets’ keyboard shortcut support.
Image: Google

Google also announced other upcoming improvements to its apps that could be useful for heavy users of its services. Meet (it’s business-focused video chat app) is getting support for iOS’s picture-in-picture feature, so you can still see your co-workers or the presentation while you switch apps to check on a file or email. Google also says it’ll expand the keyboard shortcuts available for people who use Google Sheets with an external keyboard (including Apple’s Magic Keyboard case).

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