Earlier this week, I sat down with Gmail Product Manager Todd Jackson to talk about the future of the service and to find out what's been keeping the team busy behind the scenes. Here are five tidbits from our meeting you might find interesting.
1. More Themes are coming--including ones designed by you.
No new Gmail Themes have been added since the feature launch in late November, but Jackson says more of the skins are coming. "We want to keep adding Themes. People like it. We don't know exactly how we'll do that yet. The 30 Themes that we chose were hand-designed to look great in Gmail."
Jackson says the team was split on whether to open up the design process to third parties, like what's been done on Google's customizable start page, iGoogle.
That complexity doesn't mean that the Gmail folks are beyond letting users design their own themes. When pressed if there would one day be a design-your-own Theme tool, Jackson said the closest thing users might be getting is a tool that lets them choose the colors of each Gmail element, similar to the color picker used for Gmail's labeling system.
As to when new Themes are coming, Jackson wouldn't say. However, I got a peek at a few rejects and early mock-ups, including several iterations of plaid that would get the lumberjack or golfer in all of us a little excited.
2. No iPhone Gmail app in the works
For iPhone users who are fed up with Apple's built-in Mail application and wish that they could get a native Gmail application like the ones for Android and J2ME phones--don't hold your breath. "We could make one for mail, potentially," Jackson said, "but we'd also have to make one for Palm and BlackBerry. For each platform, it's time consuming."
Instead Jackson thinks the future of Gmail on phones centers around improved 3G coverage and new standards such as HTML 5 that will make using Gmail on your handset's browser less painful. "If we can design for the Web and give you the client-like experience that you're used to getting with Gmail on your browser, it's going to be a good experience."… Read more