Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Gfeed brings simplicity to Gmail chaos


Gizmo Editor Review

One of the many things I liked about the sorely-missed Vine app was the user interface it presented to viewers. Holding your phone with one hand, you could swipe up and down to find an engaging video and you simply stopped scrolling to watch it. It was an intuitive interface that was clearly designed for the mobile phone generation.

I don’t know if the developers at Vuxo, I Corp. had Vine in mind when they created Gfeed, but they were surely traveling down the same highway. Gfeed is an app that brings the same welcome simplicity to the often confusing mail feed generated by Google ubiquitous Gmail service.

Users who download the app for their iOS or Android phone or tablet are immediately presented with this simple instruction for using the program: Keep Calm and Swipe Up. That’s pretty much Gfeed in an nutshell.

After connecting Gfeed to my own Gmail account, my mail was presented in an attractive, page-filling display on my phone. No settings to to wrestle with and no filters to figure out. The app did everything for me in the background.

Each email message reduced to the basics and the the most important elements. A label at the top of each message identifies the sender. If there’s an image in the message, it comes next, resized to fit the screen. Next comes three action icons followed by a summary text, maybe a paragraph or two, in a font and type size that seems to have been selected for fast reading. This is an app that wants to give you a snapshot of your messages and do it quickly.

Junk mail? Swipe up and move on. A photo of your kids? Take a moment to savor it and show the screen to the people around you without tapping or enlarging. A memorandum from your boss? Click the More button to see the entire message.

Those icons in the quick view give you three options: Give the message a star to make it easy to find later, tap an arrow to open a reply window, or send it to the trash can. The full view has arrow to Reply All or Forward.

That’s about all there is to Gfeed and, really, that’s all it needs to be. You surely have other tools to manage a busy mailbox. This isn’t meant to be one of them. Instead, it’s a mail-reading tool for people who have a lot of demands on their time - or maybe just one free hand at a time.

How could Gfeed improve? The full message display sometime shows just a partial view of the message. I encountered that issue when I opened messages that were highly formatted or loaded with graphics. And in one case I got stuck in the reply window and had to close and reopen the app. But those were both minor inconveniences.

And I wouldn’t encourage the developers to add more features. More options and element and user controls would just add weight to an app that already has the best feature: simplicity. If they need to add something, build in support for other email services. Gfeed currently only works with Gmail.

The app is available as a free download - mercifully without ads - in the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store.  Get a closer look at how Gfeed work in my video review below.


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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.


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