Seems I’ve been slacking on my news-gathering. Posted yesterday, an entry in the Google Operating System (GOS) blog confirms the new version of Gmail I blogged about a few weeks back. Some of the new features announced at Google Analyst Day 2007 include message prefetching, an improved contact manager (which will be shared by other Google apps — sounds like a Windows Live service I saw a couple years ago), and more integration with other Google services, along the lines of the “View in Google Docs” links added to Microsoft Office attachments.
Google didn’t announce a new UI at Analyst Day, but a discovery made last month by Garett Rogers indicates a new interface. Also, comments to the GOS blog entry hint that some users are being offered the ability to test a new interface design.
Some preliminary comments from users who claim to already have the new features say the prefetching slows down the loading of folders, something Google should probably fix before a full rollout. I wouldn’t put too much stock in an anonymous comment (since not signing in to a Google Account before posting smacks of a non-user), but “Chris” says he likes the new prefetching, and “Macon” tells of “Newer Version” and “Old Version” links in his user bar, alongside the settings and help links. Google must still be playing around with it.
I’m quite excited by the prospect of a jazzed-up interface. With the other services redesigning their UIs (Hotmail, Yahoo!), it seems only natural for Google to follow. The contact manager is of particular interest, considering the annoyances of the current model. Prefetching doesn’t make me go “yay,” really, since longer-loading folders and pulling down needless data (for messages I’m not going to open) seems like a bad idea to me. I am interested in seeing what other integrations they’ve come up with, though.