Google has been on an updating spree, with new versions of several applications showing up in the Android market over the past few days. Today, however, was something completely different. The team updated the Gmail for Android application, adding a handful of new features that will likely increase productivity exponentially for most people. You can read the full announcement here, but there’s one thing that instantly stuck out to me: Priority Inbox Alerts.
Google introduced Priority Inbox for the desktop version of Gmail quite some time ago. The premise is rather simple – Google will look over various aspects of your emails, attempting to determine which ones are important, and which ones might not be as important. There is a filtered view available that shows all of your ‘important’ emails at the top – regardless of whether you’ve already read them or not. The idea is that Priority Inbox helps you get things done by automatically filtering out the distractions.
With Gmail for Android’s new update, they’ve taken Priority Inbox one step further by adding the option to only get notifications for ‘important’ emails. Now, Priority Inbox does take a little while to setup, but it’s completely worth it. With Priority Inbox alerts, your phone becomes smart enough to act like a personal assistant with your emails, only alerting you to the ones you really care about.
While this is only currently available with Gmail, let’s take another step and apply it to the rest of your phone’s features. Imagine your phone only rings for ‘important’ phone calls and only beeps when someone important IMs or texts you. Sure, you can manually set up groups and get a similar experience, but we’re talking automatic learning intelligence, here.
I’d also like to see this intelligence pay attention to other factors, such as time and date. An email from, say, my mom might not be all that important to me while I’m at work, but when I get home I’m likely to have time to read it and respond. Similarly, an email from my boss is of the utmost importance from 9a-5p, but I’d really rather not see it after I’ve left the office or on the weekends.
While it will likely be a few years before we see in-depth intelligence from our mobile devices, I’m certainly excited to see it arriving in bits and pieces today. What about you? Is letting your phone determine whether or not a notification is important a bit scary, or do you welcome the assistance?