Gmail Previews New Compose and Reply Interfaces

By Cameron Scott 

mail, googleGmail, while struggling with service problems today, launched a preview of a soon-to-launch change to the compose feature designed to make it easier for users to consult other messages while writing a new one.

Gmail will soon open a smaller window when a user hits “compose.” By allowing users continued access to their main email menu, the pop-up spares them the extra step of saving a draft and returning to it if they want to consult another message or check for new messages while they’re writing.

Gmail pioneered many useful new features in email clients when it launched in 2007, but its latest release recycles a trick other clients have used successfully.

The feature also will also display recipients’ user photos as the sender types in their email addresses. The pictures become “chips” that can be dragged and dropped into different fields when the address is complete.

The reply feature will assume some of the same changes, while also shrinking in size since few people write long emails anymore.

Before the full launch, Google will likely also add support for emoticons and event invitations, labels on outgoing messages and canned responses for users who really don’t like to reply.