Hooray! While Google is certainly guilty of not always listening to the user base of their various products… many of you former GReader users are hearing that loud and clear… in this instance I think that Google was listening and did the right thing. One of the problems that users face when selecting any technology is that there are many vendors that are solidly entrenched in the “one size or way fits all” camp… why yes Microsoft and Apple, I am looking right at you! Many of us users are really looking for some flexibility and variety in how we can use particular products; hardware or software, without being locked into the way that the vendor decides is “best” for us.
I have used GMail for years and have watched this product grow and change over time. By the mere fact that I have stuck with this same product for so long is no mean feat… most of you know that I am the “king” of constantly trying something new. I have *not* always agreed with the changes that Google has made to the GMail product… a previous article “Google Adds Tabs, Other Changes to GMail” should give you more than enough evidence of that. Pushing all GMail users to that “itty-bitty” compose screen, even though you “could” undock it, I believe was a poor decision. By Google putting back a “new and improved” version the “full-screen compose” into GMail is a clear indication that I was not the only one that felt that the change in the message compose function was overly aggressive and poorly conceived. Not everyone agreed with that, of course, and in his comments on the article above, my good friend Matt “Fuj” Scher (http://thefuj.com) took me to task (a bit) for my dislike of the “itty-bitty” compose version. As I said earlier, I think that it benefits vendors to create opportunities for people to use their product in a variety of different ways. The change to offer the “full-screen” compose does not erase anyone’s option to continue to use the “itty-bitty” version… in my mind that choice adds flexibility/usability to the GMail product, rather than the “my way or the highway” approach used by many other vendors.
The new “full-screen” compose version also retains several of the features that I actually did like about the “itty-bitty” version… for example, continuing to offer the easy access formatting toolbar is a good move, in my opinion. I will continue to use GMail, not because I am afraid to change, but because it continues to serve my needs and, in addition, because Google (in this case) listens to its users.
Google is making this recast full-screen compose feature available almost immediately to all GMail users. If you are not able to see or change to it yet, you will over the next several days. For me, both of the GMail accounts that I use already had been included in the upgrade.
For more information and a look at this new feature, go to http://techcrunch.com/2013/07/19/gmail-offers-full-screen-compose-again/