Google (GOOG) has run into its own share of user privacy controversies in the past, but that hasn’t stopped the company from putting its foot down when it comes to giving law enforcement officials access to its users’ Gmail accounts. Per Ars Technica, Google spokesman Chris Gaither said flatly this week that Google requires “an ECPA search warrant” in order to “compel us to produce content in Gmail.” This is significant because, as Ars writes, law enforcement officials can often access private emails without first obtaining ECPA warrants, as with the recent sex scandal involving former CIA director David Petraeus ”in which intimate e-mails were revealed despite the lack of any criminal action.”
Google (GOOG) announced on Monday on the Official Gmail Blog that its free Gmail voice calling service will be extended through 2013 in the U.S. and Canada. The company has provided free domestic calling within the U.S. and Canada for the last two years, further extending the complimentary service repeatedly just before the new year. Google product manager Mayur Kamat didn’t detail why the company is extending the service in his post on the company’s blog. It’s still unclear why Google is keeping free Gmail voice calls separate from its Google Voice service bit either way, free is free and we’re not complaining.
Google (GOOG) on Friday announced plans to no longer support a variety of services in an effort to renew its focus on “creating beautiful, useful products that improve millions of people’s lives every day.” The changes will begin on January 4th when the company shuts down several less popular features in its Calendar service, including the ability to create a new appointment and check the calendar through text messaging. Google will also discontinue support for its Sync service, which allows users to access Gmail, Calendar and Contacts through Microsoft’s (MSFT) Exchange ActiveSync protocol. The service will be shut down for new consumers on January 30th, although the company will continue to support Sync for existing connections and its business, government and education customers.
Users took to social networks on Monday to vent their displeasure with Google (GOOG) following a 40-minute disruption of service affecting the company’s Chrome Web browser and Gmail service. It was previously unclear what caused the services to simultaneously crash and some suspected the company was hit with a denial-of-service attack. Google engineer Tim Steele took to the company’s developer forums to clear up the confusion and confirmed what some developers had already suspected: The reason for the crash had to do with the Google Sync servers getting overwhelmed following a change in the code, not a DDoS attack. More →
Just one day after providing a major update for its Android Gmail app, Google (GOOG) has delivered a much-needed revamp to its iOS Gmail app, providing several key features such as support for multiple accounts and autocomplete functionality. Other key features to the new Gmail app include an infinitely scrolling inbox, the ability to respond to Google Calendar invites inline, and greater integration with the Google+ social network. Gmail 2.0 for iOS is now free to download from the Apple (AAPL) App Store and has been updated for both the iPhone and iPad.
The wait is over for Android users who want pinch-to-zoom capabilities for their mobile Gmail apps. Android Police reports that Google (GOOG) has released its new Gmail 4.2 app that will be available for all devices with Android 4.0 or higher. The new version of Gmail, which we first learned about in October, lets users zoom in on their emails with a simple pinch gesture and also gives users the option of deleting or archiving their emails with a simple swipe gesture. Android Police says that other additions to the app include “in-app video and photo attachment capability, and larger photo previews, along with a brand-new gallery view for emails with multiple image attachments.”
Have you ever wanted to send a file attachment in Gmail that’s larger than the 25MB limit? Google (GOOG) has heard your cry and is smartly integrating Google Drive with its Gmail service to allow for attachments up to 10GB, or 400 times the current limit. Attachments are stored in the cloud and recipients “have access to the same, most up-to-date version.” To start attaching 10GB files to your emails, all you need to do is click the Drive icon instead of the usual paperclip icon and choose your file to upload. Google states on its official Gmail Blog that since Drive debuted in April, millions of people have used it to store and share files. Gmail integration with 10GB attachments is just the next logical step for its cloud storage service, and is very welcome for anyone who likes sending big files. More →
Emails on Android smartphones are about to get easier to read. Android Police this week got its hands on an unreleased update to Google’s (GOOG) Gmail Android app that adds much-desired pinch-to-zoom and swipe-to-delete capabilities. The pinch-to-zoom functionality speaks for itself: It lets users zoom in on their emails with a simple pinch gesture. The swipe-to-delete feature, meanwhile, gives users the option of deleting or archiving their emails with a simple swipe gesture, although Android Police notes that this feature can be turned off for users who worried about accidentally deleting their entire inbox. And finally, the new Gmail update lets users mark emails as phishing attempts as well as marking them as simply spam. A video demonstration of the new features is posted below. More →
Following on the heels of Netflix (NFLX), Google (GOOG) has updated yet another key iOS app to fit onto the iPhone 5′s larger four-inch screen. As MacRumors writes, the latest version of Gmail released onto the App Store on Friday has been “optimized for the iPhone 5,” although Google doesn’t say whether this optimization involves anything other than adjusting for new screen size. Although smaller app developers have griped about not having enough time to adjust their apps to the iPhone 5′s larger screen, the big players so far have had no problem updating their apps in a timely fashion. More →
Long-suffering iPhone Gmail users had their prayers answered Monday as Google announced support for Apple’s Notification Center on its iOS Gmail app. In other words, anyone who gets an email on their Gmail account will now be able to access it right from the centralized Notification Center rather than having to check their Gmail app separately. Google says that adding Gmail to the Notification Center will make Gmail notifications “up to 5x faster than in the previous version.” Other improvements to the iOS Gmail app include the ability to send emails from alternate addresses if you’ve properly configured them within your current Gmail account and an upgraded login system that lets users stay logged into iOS Gmail for as long as they want. Google also says that it is “looking forward to bringing… more features in future releases, including support for multiple accounts.” See, they aren’t evil. More →
Google on Tuesday unveiled its new “Google Drive” cloud storage solution, taking direct aim at Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Dropbox and other similar services. The new offering includes 5GB of free cloud-based storage and allows users to store, collaborate on, and share documents and other files. At the same time as its new Google Drive service was rolling out across the Web, Google also quietly gave Gmail users a capacity boost of more than 35% according to reports. Gmail launched in 2004 with 1GB of free storage and that figure has been increasing steadily to just over 7GB as of earlier this week. On Tuesday, Gmail’s free storage climbed to 10GB according to a report from Engadget. We haven’t seen the storage boost hit our inboxes yet, but a number of users reportedly have. Google has not formally announced the update. More →
In what can only be described as yet another set back for Google’s privacy battle, Gmail users are accusing the search giant of accessing their contact lists and sending spam emails to contacts with non-Gmail email addresses. “STOP IT!,” an irate user wrote on Google’s support forums. “At no point did I say it was ok for Google to send email messages to my non-GMail contacts recommending they sign up for GMail.” The user, posting to Google’s forum under the name MrCheck, claims a contact of his responded back to the unauthorized email and informed him that he doesn’t use Gmail or Google Talk. Further investigating supposedly found that Google sent his contacts with non-Gmail email addresses a spam email that highlighted the benefits of Gmail and Google Talk, inviting them to join the services. There was no evidence of the sent email in MrCheck’s sent box according to his post. Numerous others have shared similar stories as well, claiming that Google has spammed their contacts. The accusations come at a time where the Mountain View-based company is in the midst of dealing with a number of privacy hiccups that have damaged its public image. Read on for Google’s response More →
Google on Monday announced that the company would combine individual privacy policies from a variety of its products into one main policy. Critics of the change were worried that Google was now collecting more data than before, and the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee demanded answers. The Mountain View-based company has now responded to Congress and defended its decision to change the policy. Read on for more. More →