Friday, September 10, 2010

Google Not Updating Their Apps?

Microsoft is notorious for not improving the applications, unless and until competitors light a fire under them. There are features in Access and Outlook that have been flawed for more than a decade. Oh sure, Microsoft releases new versions, but they mostly add new features that nobody wants, without fixing/enhancing the stuff that really needs it. I am getting a little concerned that Google is showing similar signs.

Gmail is pretty good and has gotten some updates. But Contacts is pretty bare-bones, even though it has been around for years. Calendar is more full-featured, but doesn't seem to be improving very quickly. The Calendar feature that started me thinking about this is Reminders--frankly, they are terrible. And Reminder are not a niche feature--they are core to Calendar functionality. People rely on them. At a minimum, Google needs to allow you to snooze reminders an arbitrary amount of time. Almost as important is aggregating the Reminders, like Microsoft started doing in Outlook 2003. So you don't have 12 reminders windows open--you have 1 scrolling window, displaying 12 reminders.

Here is a bonus idea for Google--include the concept of "Travel Time" with appointments. So if you have a 1-2 appt that takes 15 minutes to get to and from, your calendar would sandwich the actual appointment in between 15-minute travel blocks, formatted in a visually obvious way. That way, I would no longer confuse myself, trying to remember "Was the appointment really at 12:45, or did I add 15 minutes for travel time to a 1:00 appointment?".

And here is another one. A great feature of Google Calendars is the virtual, aggregated view, which shows  family member's appointments, each color-coded, superimposed on your own calendar. It is a very common thing to create events that involve those same people. In other words, your events show up on both your calendar, and theirs. Especially if you have a family view that involves more than 2 calendars, this creates A LOT of clutter. So a very obvious feature would be to allow, or visually depict, suppression of the redundant events on your family calendars.

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