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BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) – Big changes are coming to popular Google products like Gmail and Google Maps.
Tech Tuesday’s David Powell discusses what you can expect from those products in this week’s segment. The following is David’s explanation of the changes:
Many of us rely on Gmail and Google Maps as part of our everyday lives. Google recently announced big changes coming to both of these products. While these are considered “enhancements”, many users don’t like their applications to change. So, what changes are coming? Let’s discuss:
* Gmail- we all covered each day by an avalanche of email. Google wants to try to automate the organization of that email into a way that makes it easier for the user to manage. In the next few months, your Google Inbox will give you the option to allow it to automate the organization of your email into categories. For example, the PRIMARY category will hold messages from friends, family and other people you communicate with regularly. The SOCIAL folder will hold messages from social networks like Twitter and Facebook. The Promotions folder will hold stuff from retailers and such.
* So, Gmail is automatically sort your email? Does that worry you? Well, I think you will have to “train” it some by forcing certain things into certain folders, but overall, yes. It works. You have to trust the sorting process, but it works fairly well. But, let’s face it, we all struggle with keeping up with our email. So, if the tool makes email for efficient for us, I think the users will like it.
* So, what are they doing with Google Maps? First, it is getting a refresh to look a little cleaner. It is also tying more cleanly into the Google Earth tool for satellite imagery. Street View is also easier to use. You can cllick on any road on the map and you can get a thumbnail of what that stretch of road looks like. Also, there is 3D imagery for some key cities which is very nice. The images really are impressive.
* What about searching for things on the map? Google is adding a social component to the maps as well. If you are looking for a restaurant in an area, maybe you searched for “italian restaurants”, it will show all the results on the map you are reviewing. It will also pull up reviews and show if any of your friends have rated it. That could be very helpful.
* Lots of stuff to look forward to. Is this live now? The changes to both Maps and Gmail will be rolling out over the next several months. You will be able to opt out of the Gmail if you want to keep your current view, but you should give the new version a try!