The Iterative Web App: Links Got Shorter and Smarter

Posted by Casey Ho, Software Engineer, Google Mobile

Google Mobile Blog by Heaven On April 7th, we announced a new version of Gmail for mobile for iPhone and Android-powered devices. Among the improvements was a complete redesign of the web application’s underlying code which allows us to more rapidly develop and release new features that users have been asking for, as explained in our first post. We’d like to introduce The Iterative Webapp, a series where we will continue to release features for Gmail for mobile. Today: Smart Links.

We all know that on a mobile device, screen space is scarce, so it’s not very helpful when I get an email with a long link such as this Google Maps link:

Not only is the link taking up an unnecessarily large amount of space, but it’s not easy to find the address that’s hidden in the middle of the link. To solve this problem, we now shorten the link and automatically convert raw links into named links, which we call « Smart Links ». So instead of seeing that long link to Google Maps, you’re going to see the link renamed to the actual address:

Clicking on it still takes you to the same Google Maps page, but now the link is much shorter and the important information is more visible!
Here’s a list of links we currently support:
  • Google Maps address queries
  • Google Maps directional queries (with one destination)
  • Google Sites webpages
  • YouTube videos

We’re planning to roll out support for more link types, such as Google Docs, so watch for those in your emails. Please note that Smart Links work only in plaintext emails right now.

To try out Gmail for mobile, visit gmail.com in your mobile browser. This version of Gmail for mobile supports iPhone/iPod touch OS 2.2.1 or above, as well as all Android-powered devices, and is available for US English only. To make it easy to access your Gmail account, try creating a home screen link.

One more tip: Label management got easier for Android-powered devices with a physical keyboard. In the « Label as… » menu on the floaty bar, there is now a text box above the list of labels. You can type the name of a label you wish to select into the box rather than clicking on it. As you type, the list filters to show only labels that match what you’ve typed. We also added more keyboard shortcuts to bring it closer to the Gmail experience on your computer.

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