GMail and me

Since this Saturday I now have the opportunity to test Gmail, the new mailing service of Google (currently in beta state).

First I thought: “No POP3 access? Come on :-( " but then I made my first steps in the web interface and … it is just great. It’s simple, it’s to the point and it’s fast. The whole things I more or less completely written in JavaScript which makes some funny keyboard-shortcuts possible. The whole window also reload every few minutes so you don’t miss any new mails.

Google is a websearch provider and this also seems to be their strategy for the mailing service. Every account gets 1000MB so, if you don’t send 10MB mails all the time and for a long time, you wont get it full that easily. The web interface offers a search function that can be access in good old VI-style with “/”. The search function seems to use a full-text-method or at least a very good keyword method. This way you’ll probably lose any mail again :-)

If you’re using bulletin board like phpBB sometimes (or more often) you’ll notice another very useful feature right away: GMail tries to detect conversations (related mails like replies to an original mail and stuff like that) and bundles them in a thread. When clicking on such a “conversation” you see all the mails of this conversation as if you were reading a thread in a bulletin board … and with something board users will recognize as a “quick reply” field. Really nice :-)

The only thing that bugs me a little bit are the legal obligations of Google. The problem is: Google servers are spread all over the world and so could also be your emails. I’m not a lawyer but I could think that where ever the server is located, local laws apply to the data stored on it, so you have your mail and depending on a local law it could be legitimated to request information about your account because of something that wouldn’t cause the same in another country.

If Google can clear the situation here then Gmail could become the web-killapp at least in the webmail area. I for my part can hardly wait when the whole service goes public :-)