For a while now, I've been on the Google Apps bandwagon, not necessarily because I'm a big fan of Gmail and Google Docs, but more because I like the way the folks at Google think out of the box when it comes to re-thinking online communications.
E-mail is broken and has been for some time. Not to say that others aren't working on new forms of e-mail but Google seems to be taking some of the boldest steps to enhance the inbox experience - and rock the boat among Internet users who resist change.
Today, Google is rolling out another enhancement to Gmail, one that could actually end up being a real productivity enhancer. It's called Priority Inbox and the idea behind it is to filter the emails that are most important to you out of the general inbox and place them into a separate window for quick attention.
In the beginning, users can "star" a message or even mark it as "more important" or "less important" with a single click and Google will start understanding which messages are important to you. But, over time, Gmail will also pick up on the user's habits, recognizing things such as every e-mail from your boss, your spouse and your kid's coach gets opened immediately or that some newsletters are opened daily while others stack up unopened in the inbox.
Eventually, Gmail knows what's most important to you and puts it in front of you when you need to see it - immediately. On its enterprise blog, the company highlighted some productivity metrics to emphasize the productivity gains. It wrote:
When we tested Priority Inbox at Google, we found that people spent 6% less time on email after enabling this feature. This translates to a week’s worth of time saved each year for information workers who typically spend 13 hours per week on email today!
The new feature, like all of Gmail's enhancements, is free and will automatically be added to Gmail inboxes.