Gmail is a free, advertising-supported email service developed by Google. Users can access Gmail on the web and through mobile apps for Android and iOS, as well as through third-party programs that synchronize email content through POP or IMAP protocols. Gmail started as a limited beta release on April 1, 2004, and ended its testing phase on July 7, 2009.
At launch, Gmail had an initial storage capacity offer of one gigabyte per user, a significantly higher amount than competitors offered at the time. Today, the service comes with 15 gigabytes of storage. Users can receive emails up to 50 megabytes in size, including attachments, while they can send emails up to 25 megabytes. In order to send larger files, users can insert files from Google Drive into the message. Gmail has a search-oriented interface and a “conversation view” similar to an Internet forum. The service is notable among website developers for its early adoption of Ajax.
With the Gmail app you get:
- Undo Send, to prevent embarrassing mistakes
- Switch between multiple accounts
- Get notified of new mail fast, with notification center, badge and lock screen options
- Search your mail faster with instant results, predictions as you type & spelling suggestions
- Swipe to archive/delete, to quickly clear out your inbox
- Read your mail with threaded conversations
- Auto-complete contact names as you type from your Google contacts or your phone
- Respond to Google Calendar invites right from the app
- An organized inbox – Social and promotional messages are sorted into categories so you can read messages from friends and family first.
- Less spam – Gmail blocks spam before it hits your inbox to keep your account safe and clutter free.
- 15GB of free storage – You won’t need to delete messages to save space.
- Multiple account support – Use both Gmail and non-Gmail addresses (Outlook.com, Yahoo Mail, or any other IMAP/POP email) right from the app.
- Organize your mail by archiving, labeling, starring, deleting and reporting spam
- Send and receive attachments
- See profile pictures as part of the conversation
On April 1, 2004, Gmail was launched with one gigabyte (GB) of storage space, a significantly higher amount than competitors offered at the time.
On April 1, 2005, the first anniversary of Gmail, the limit was doubled to two gigabytes of storage. Georges Harik, the product management director for Gmail, stated that Google would “keep giving people more space forever.”
On April 24, 2012, Google announced the increase of storage included in Gmail from 7.5 to 10 gigabytes (“and counting”) as part of the launch of Google Drive.
On May 13, 2013, Google announced the overall merge of storage across Gmail, Google Drive, and Google+ Photos, allowing users 15 gigabytes of included storage among the three services.
There are also storage limits to individual Gmail messages. One message, including all attachments, cannot be larger than 25 megabytes. This was changed in March 2017, to allow receiving of email up to 50 megabytes, with the limit for sending email staying at 25 megabytes. In order to send larger files, users can insert files from Google Drive into the message
The Gmail user interface initially differed from other webmail systems with its focus on search and conversation threading of emails, grouping several messages between two or more people onto a single page, an approach that was later copied by its competitors.
Gmail’s interface also makes use of ‘labels’ (tags) – that replace the conventional folders and provide a more flexible method of organizing email; filters for automatically organizing, deleting or forwarding incoming emails to other addresses; and importance markers for automatically marking messages as ‘important’.
In May 2013, Google updated the Gmail inbox with tabs which allow the application to categorize the user’s emails. The five tabs are: Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums. In addition to customization options, the entire update can be disabled, allowing users to return to the traditional inbox structure.