10 Gmail innovations – We may take it for granted now, but email has changed the way we interact with one another. Ten years ago Google launched Gmail, a free web-based email service (at first invite-only) that has grown into the world's most-used. Here's a retro-flavored look at 10 innovations Gmail has led since its April 1, 2004, launch.
10 Gmail innovations – Storage: Gmail initially offered 1 GB of storage, which was massive at the time. The standard, from competitors like Hotmail, had been around 2-4 MB. Cloud storage now lets Google offer 15 GB of free storage across its services, meaning users never have to delete an email if they don't want to.
10 Gmail innovations – Search: With all that storage, it could be a task to dig through your inbox to find an old message. Gmail was an innovator in search, through, allowing the user to type in a keyword or two and pull up all their emails that contained them.
10 Gmail innovations – Stars and Priority: It didn't take long for us to start clogging up our email accounts. Whether it's spam, social-media notifications or offers from companies with whom we've done business, a lot of our messages aren't exactly urgent. With Stars, and later the Priority Inbox, Google made it a little easier to separate the wheat from the chaff.
10 Gmail innovations – Unsend: In 2009 Google gave us a chance to take it all back, at least if we act fast. Improved and more widely discovered the following year, this feature gives you 30 seconds (originally just five) to click "Undo Send," ending that sick-to-your-stomach feeling when you realize that nasty note *about* your boss was accidentally sent *to* your boss.
10 Gmail innovations – Social networking: Google Buzz didn't last, and Google+ has been more about creating close-knit communities than becoming a Facebook killer. But when Google linked up Gmail with Buzz in 2010 and Google+ the following year, it signaled the company's goal of pulling all Google services together under one digital umbrella.
10 Gmail innovations – Mobile: How's this for forward looking? In 2005, nearly two years before the world met a gadget called the iPhone, Gmail was available as a mobile app. Obviously, most people didn't have a smartphone then. But even the feature phones of yore could let you check your messages with this feature.
10 Gmail innovations – Experiment away: In 2008, Google launched Gmail Labs, letting users pick and choose from any number of in-house experiments the company was working on. Some, like bookmarking certain messages, would work their way into the product for everybody, while others would just disappear.
10 Gmail innovations – Calendar integration: One of our favorite Gmail syncs is one of the simplest. By tying in the user's calendar to Gmail, important dates that you receive in messages -- invitations and the like -- show up on your calendar without you having to do anything. One less excuse for forgetting your anniversary, folks.
10 Gmail innovations – Threaded conversations: Sometimes we chat with the same folks for years, or chat with a lot of folks at once. It can be tough to keep up with it all. A lot of e-mail services now offer "threaded" conversations, but it was Gmail that popularized the concept. In Gmail, replies, replies to replies and, yes, replies to those replies are displayed in one place, in order, making it easier to follow the entire conversation.
10 Gmail innovations – Don't drink and email: OK, this one was just funny. Sometimes, 30 seconds isn't enough to save us from ourselves. So, in 2008, an engineer came up with Mail Goggles. If you enable it, it defaults to the hours you're most likely to be ... uh ... festive, and makes you answer a set of math problems before you can send a message. With Mail Goggles, if you still go ahead with that 3 a.m. declaration of love for your ex, it's totally on you.