Credit Where It's Due: I Love the New Gmail Design

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A new compose window makes writing emails much smoother.

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Remember a few months ago, when I went on a whiny rant called, "What Went Wrong With Gmail?" In it, I accused the company of messing with a user experience that wasn't broken and in the process, made it terrible. In that version of Gmail, it was very difficult to email while you had chat windows open. If you spend your entire day emailing and chatting, that's a brutal, 10-hours-a-day problem. 

Well, over the past few days, Google has been rolling out a new design for the window where you write your email. It feels more like a big chat window than the old compose function used to, and I love it. The trick it plays on my brain is to make it feel *easier* to write an email. In a sense, it's a move towards that Facebookian world where a message is a message is a message and there is no differentiation between lengths and genres, platforms and devices. 

But it is a small step in that direction. 

The big improvement is that the interface is clean, stripped of all the whistles, whitespace everywhere. It's ultrasimple. 

There are some people who don't like it like my left-handed friend Meredith Hindley, who doesn't think the box should be anchored in the right corner of the screen... 

But I'm guessing the majority of people will, like me, immediately love it. 

P.S. Google is doing its traditional slowish rollout, so if you don't have the option to try the new compose window now, you will soon.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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