News: September 2010

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This week there were several news announcements in the Gmail space that I want to share with you. First, Google is rolling out two factor authentication to make using Gmail and other Google apps more secure. Two factor authentication uses your password, something you already know, with a second, temporary passcode issued to you via your phone. That means if someone gets your password, they still won’t be able to get in unless they have your phone. When you sign in to Gmail, you’ll provide your password, then Google will text your phone with a unique six digit code that you then type in to complete the login process. While this double password may seem like a hassle, I’ve used several two factor schemes in my day job and it really isn’t a big deal to use. However, it is a big deal to someone trying to get at your information. The feature is being deployed in commercial and educational spaces first and will be rolled out to the rest of us shortly. No news if the feature can be disabled or not. Keep tuned in to the Gmail Podcast for updates.

The second update is that Google has updated their Gmail app for Android. They made the message navigation a bit easier and even have limited support for the new Priority Inbox.

And speaking of Priority Inbox, I noticed under Settings, Priority Inbox, that there’s a fourth section you can enable or even change the behavior of the three default sections of Important and Unread, Starred, and Everything Else. As I’ve mentioned in some episodes a while back, I am a practitioner of David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology. There are times when I need to tag actionable items in email, but they’re not going to be there long enough to enter and track in my system so I label them with @Actions. I’ve told Gmail to use that fourth section for all tasks labeled @Actions. Before Priority Inbox came along, I would occasionally lose items with that label if I happened to archive them. Sure, they’d still have the @Actions label, but they wouldn’t be in the inbox any more. Priority Inbox doesn’t do that. If there are any messages with that label, they’ll be on that front page even if they’ve been archived. That means actions can’t get swept under the rug (or marked completed) until I remove that special label. You could do the same thing with Stars, but I prefer to label things.

Finally, Yahoo recent quoted a study from the Fraunhofer Institute to state that Yahoo and Hotmail’s spam filtering are better than Gmail’s. To quote:

“The Fraunhofer Institute, an independent research firm, found that Yahoo! Mail users saw the least amount of spam out of the five providers tested, with nearly 40% less spam than Hotmail and 55% less spam than Gmail – meaning Gmail users in the study saw more than twice as much spam as Yahoo! Mail users.”

To make a long story short, the study was sponsored by Microsoft and represented six test subjects. So much for independent studies.

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