Watch Out Hotmail: A Closer Look At Gmail Contextual Gadgets

Raining On Hotmail's Parade

Google this week unveiled a host of new gadgets that let enterprise Gmail users customize their e-mail experience. The new Gmail contextual gadgets represent a new Gmail API that lets Google Apps Marketplace applications present relevant information to users in their Gmail, when they're reading a message.

Google's launch of Gmail contextual gadgets comes as Microsoft looks to inject new relevance into its Hotmail offering by adding new features and functions in Hotmail to make it a little more, well, Gmail-like. Microsoft's Hotmail, now called Windows Live Hotmail, now enables photo previewing, social networking, video viewing and a host of new inbox functions like conversation view and one-click filtering, make Hotmail a little more like Gmail, which recently has become the free Web-mail of choice for many.

But as Chandrashekar Raghavan, Google apps extensions product manager said in a blog post: "Contextual gadgets in Gmail – like YouTube, Google Docs and Picasa previews – intelligently display relevant information from other systems as you read your email, so you can be more efficient without leaving your inbox." Google was also quick to point out that Gmail contextual gadgets are available now, while Microsoft's Hotmail updates won't start reaching users until June.

Here we look at 10 Gmail contextual gadgets and what they do.


AlwaysFind lets Gmail users route messages from specific people or regarding specific topics to SMS, IM or voice. It lets users be notified of urgent emails without their inbox open and advanced filters can be set right within Gmail messages.

According to AlwaysFind, every Gmail message will offer the option to route messages by sender or with that topic to SMS, voice or IM for the next day, week or month – or forever.


Kwaga puts social media and social networking right into Gmail. The company lets users see profiles, presents a list of conversations with certain contacts and reminds users whether an email thread is unanswered within Gmail. Kwaga calls itself a "second brain for email." It remembers important threads and people and always displays social networking information, combining profiles from LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and more to present information about e-mail senders. Kwaga Context is directly integrated into Gmail inboxes without installation or plug-ins and actionable information is presented at the bottom of each e-mail.


The Gist contextual gadget for Gmail pulls together information from anyone in the "from" or "cc" e-mail fields in Gmail and places a profile at the bottom of an opened e-mail. The gadget delivers contact information and updates, lets users request profiles to build connections and searches across contacts with the goal of helping users prep for meetings, make introductions and better connect with contacts through related information and context.

Gist says it generates updates for individual and company profiles with information culled from social networks like Twitter and Facebook, more than 20 million blogs and more than 50,000 news sources to tie data together into Gmail.


Ontier's Pixatell gadget lets users send visual messages from the desktop to add voice, screen recordings and video to Gmail and electronic documents accessed from other Google Apps. Users compose a visual message and send it. Pixatell messages can be composed on Windows machines and be played back on Mac, Linux, Windows, iPhone and BlackBerry.


Smartsheet makes online product management tools that take spreadsheets one step further with features like Gantt charts, collapsible sub-tasks and attachments, and discussions. Users can collaborate on projects and tasks; receive automated e-mail notifications, reminders and updates; and integrate it into Google Apps and Google Docs. With Smartsheet's Gmail contextual gadget users can access and update entries in Smartsheet's sales pipeline and project management tool from Gmail.

Newmind Group

Newmind Group's Gist.Github preview is a Gmail contextual gadget that enables users of the code sharing service to preview Gist code snippets right within Gmail. The gadget detects URLs in user e-mail that link back to code snippets hosted on the Github code sharing service. When the gadget detects a URL it loads a preview of the code snipped right into the Gmail interface. From there, the user can review the code, comment back to the sender or copy the code for use without leaving Gmail.


The BillFLO Connect Gadget lets users review and approve invoices for payment in Gmail. Users can manage all invoice approvals, keep a history of approvals and send approvals to accounting. BillFLO eliminates the needs to click links and log into the approval portal. Users add a comment and click "approve" or "reject" in Gmail and the accounting department is updated.

Xobni Hoover's Gadget

Xobni created the Hoover's Gadget for Gmail to give users more context for communications with people who send e-mails from their work e-mail addresses. The company says the Gmail contextual gadget detects company email addresses and presents relevant Hoover's company information like company size, revenue and location. The gadget also displays the company's stock ticker and a link to Google Finance in Gmail to access company information.


Team collaboration application maker Manymoon has added Gmail contextual gadget integration that lets users leverage its capabilities in Gmail. The gadget makes e-mails actionable by creating tasks and projects from Gmail. Manymoon makes an application that lets users attach Google Docs to tasks, projects and events; add project information to shared Google Calendars; and collaborate on Google Site.


Rapportive makes social CRM for Google Apps and with the new Gmail contextual gadget Rapportive presents users contact photos, occupations, locations, recent Twitter posts and social media profiles from LinkedIn and Facebook in Gmail. Rapportive searches the Web to find information and integrates it into Gmail for users to better understand and build rapport with contacts.