7 Gmail Browser Extensions That Are So Good They Should Be Native Features

Google is pretty regularly adds new features to Gmail, but there’s always room for improvement, and third-party developers have been quick to plug the gaps. Here are seven browser add-ons that are polished and powerful enough to be native features (and hopefully will be one day…).

Advertisement


1. Checker Plus for Gmail (Chrome, Edge)

Checker Plus for Gmail is a totally different way of checking for new email. Rather than having a Gmail tab always open, you can click the Checker Plus for Gmail icon on the Chrome toolbar to see new messages and quickly process them. You can mark messages as read, delete them, and generally manage your inbox without even launching Gmail.

Illustration for article titled 7 Gmail Browser Extensions That Are So Good They Should Be Native Features

Screenshot: Checker Plus for Gmail

There’s support for multiple Gmail accounts, so it’s really good for managing multiple Google email addresses, and we really like what this browser extension does in terms of customizations as well—you can configure which inbox labels get shown, set up a Do Not Disturb window, alter the look and appearance of the add-on window, and more.


Imagine if emails weren’t flooding into your inbox every minute and every hour of the day; instead, they arrived only when you allowed them to. It might go a long way to reducing email anxiety and inbox distraction, and this is exactly what Inbox When Ready provides. The core feature of the add-on, brilliant in its simplicity, is to completely hide your Gmail inbox from view.

Advertisement

Illustration for article titled 7 Gmail Browser Extensions That Are So Good They Should Be Native Features

Screenshot: Inbox When Ready

You can still search through and compose emails, but you’re not constantly seeing unread counts and alerts about new messages. Inbox When Ready keeps track of the times when you decide to show your inbox as normal, and you can configure the extension to lock you out of your email at certain times, or limit the total time you can look at your emails for.

Advertisement


Todoist is a full-fledged app in its own right, but its associated browser extension is a perfect example of the sort of extra functionality that could be added to Gmail. While Google has made some effort to integrate Google Tasks with its email client, the Todoist browser add-on is a much more polished and much more capable option.

Advertisement

Illustration for article titled 7 Gmail Browser Extensions That Are So Good They Should Be Native Features

Screenshot: Todoist

The Todoist for Gmail extension adds a new button on the toolbar for opened messages, so you can quickly add a new to-do based on the message you’re reading. You can still edit the title, frequency and other settings for the task as you go. You also get access to your lists from the pop-up box in the lower right-hand corner of the Gmail interface.

Advertisement


Boomerang initially made its name as a great option for scheduling messages in Gmail, and even though that’s now a native feature Google added to Gmail, Boomerang is still worth a look for all the other tweaks and tricks that it brings: reminders for unanswered emails, help with composing messages, an inbox pause option, and more.

Advertisement

Illustration for article titled 7 Gmail Browser Extensions That Are So Good They Should Be Native Features

Screenshot: Boomerang

The first change you’ll notice when you install Boomerang is a big Pause Inbox button on the left that you can use to stop the flood of incoming emails. You also get new buttons added to various other screens, so you can use the browser extension to hide emails until you’re ready for them, or schedule emails to be sent at a specific time in the future.

Advertisement


5. Simplify Gmail (Chrome, Edge) 

Google usually maintains a minimal aesthetic, but there’s no doubt that the Gmail interface can get cluttered at times, and that’s where Simplify Gmail comes in. As the name suggests, it tweaks the look of Gmail on the web to focus on what’s most important, meaning fewer distractions for you as you work through your busy inbox.

Advertisement

Illustration for article titled 7 Gmail Browser Extensions That Are So Good They Should Be Native Features

Screenshot: Simplify Gmail

The extension was put together by one of the co-founders of the now defunct Inbox by Gmail, and it borrows some of the visual ideas of that app. There’s more white space, the option to hide a lot of the on-screen elements, a better layout for conversations, and clever use of background images, too—and all of this can be easily customized if needed.

Advertisement


Simple Gmail Notes simply lets you append notes to the email messages in your Gmail inbox, which is actually a more useful feature than you might think, and one that we hope is on the radar of at least one Google engineer. Being able to add notes to individual emails and conversation threads means you need never lose track of an idea or a contact again.

Advertisement

Illustration for article titled 7 Gmail Browser Extensions That Are So Good They Should Be Native Features

Screenshot: Simple Gmail Notes

How you decide to use Simple Gmail Notes is entirely up to you. You might want to add notes on contacts, clients, or projects, or set yourself reminders for follow-up emails, for example. Your notes get synced across devices courtesy of Google Drive, and you can take control of where the notes appear on screen as well as the default colors used for them.

Advertisement


One useful feature we’d like to see Google add to Gmail is the option to flag and block common email-tracking technologies. These are typically little tracking pixels hidden in emails that enable the sender to see when and where you open up the email, and even the app you used to browse your inbox. That’s where Trocker comes in.

Advertisement

Illustration for article titled 7 Gmail Browser Extensions That Are So Good They Should Be Native Features

Screenshot: Trocker

The extension will keep a careful eye on your inbox, stopping these pixel trackers from loading and giving you a heads up about which messages include them (the tracking pixel itself gets replaced by a little Trocker image, too). As an added bonus, it works with just about every web email app, so the online Outlook and Yahoo portals are also covered.

Advertisement

Twitter Is Finally Fixing Its Trash Photo Quality

Illustration for article titled Twitter Is Finally Fixing Its Trash Photo Quality

Photo: Bethany Clarke / Stringer (Getty Images)

Twitter has a bunch of big problems, and most of them are easy to identify: free speech issues; rampant harassment on the platform; difficult-to-mitigate abuses by electeds and other officials in positions of power. Thankfully, on Wednesday Twitter announced that it had decided to fix the absolute least of those issues and would immediately begin allowing users to post higher-resolution images on mobile. As someone who also tackles my problems from smallest to largest only to get tired after the small stuff and call it a day without making any meaningful or substantial changes in my life, I have no choice but to stand in solidarity with Twitter’s strategy here.

Advertisement

Effective Wednesday, all Twitter users will now have the option to post and view photos in 4K on iOS and Android. Although users could always view images at resolutions up to 4096 x 4096 on Twitter’s web app, the mobile version had previously limited resolution to a meager 2048 x 2048, making for a grainy, yucky viewing experience.

The news about increased image resolution comes just over a month after Twitter announced that it was retooling the way users could share media on the platform, which included testing on how images appear in the Tweet composer and how they appear in their final form on the timeline. Crucially, this fix was targeting the problematic crop feature that Twitter employs, wherein idiots like me try to post a photo and Twitter algorithmically crops it to within an inch of its life, erasing vital context and forcing me to shamefully delete my own tweet seconds after it’s posted.

There’s still no word on when the auto-crop travesty will be rectified, but the resolution issue can be taken care of immediately, as long as users update their high-quality image preferences in their “data usage” settings of the Twitter app. And while higher-quality images do sound nice in theory, there’s no guarantee that they’ll make my personal tweets suck any less. Seems unfair to me, when you think about it.

Reddit’s Reportedly Cooking Up Its Own Clubhouse-Like Voice Chat Feature

Illustration for article titled Reddit's Reportedly Cooking Up Its Own Clubhouse-Like Voice Chat Feature

Photo: Olivier Douliery (Getty Images)

Rumor has it the front page of the internet may be the latest online platform cooking up a social audio feature a la the voice-only chat app Clubhouse.

Advertisement

Reddit is quietly working on incorporating moderator-run voice chats onto the platform, a person familiar with the matter said in a Friday Mashable report. In an interview with the outlet, the source described the feature’s development as confidential and still in its early stages.

If this voice chat feature ever does see the light of day, odds are it’ll roll out under Reddit’s “power-ups” banner, an initiative the company launched last year to experiment with new subscription-based features specific to individual subreddits.

In its initial announcement, Reddit listed several examples of these features, called power-ups, such as the “ability to upload and stream up to HD quality video,” “video file limits doubled,” and “inline GIFs in comments,” among others. Subreddits can unlock these perks after enough of their members purchase monthly power-up subscriptions, with the minimum threshold for each community determined by its size.

At the time, Reddit made it crystal clear it wanted to hear from users for future suggestions.

“The new experiment helps create a framework that allows us to add ‘nice to have’ features for subreddits,” Reddit said in its announcement in August. “We are starting with a few handpicked features and expect to add more as we get input from you and the communities that have opted into our early testing.”

Given all the buzz about social audio services these days, I suspect “voice chat” scored pretty high on the list of suggestions. Though I can understand why Reddit may want to keep things under wraps for now given how royally it screwed up trying to introduce chat rooms last year. TLDR: Reddit pushed out the feature with little forewarning and seemingly zero thought about moderation, as subreddit mods couldn’t opt-out of chats or control them. It was a disaster. 

Advertisement

Reddit did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment, but we’ll be sure to update this blog when they do.

Time will tell if this audio chat craze is a flash in the pan, but what is clear is that the landscape is quickly becoming crowded. Clubhouse has inspired several copycats since its launch in March 2020, with Twitter, LinkedIn, Slack, and TikTok’s parent company, Bytedance, all reportedly rushing to get in on the action with their own audio chat features. Facebook also began beta testing for its Clubhouse clone, a web-based Q&A platform that it’s calling Hotline, this week.

Advertisement

Google Is Cracking Down on Apps That Can See Every Other App You Have Installed

Illustration for article titled Google Is Cracking Down on Apps That Can See Every Other App You Have Installed

Photo: Sam Rutherford

As Google continues to upgrade its privacy and security policies, it’s now making an important change in Android that will significantly limit the ability of Android apps to see all the other apps you have installed on your device.

Advertisement

In a recent announcement for developers, Google outlined an update to its policies that will restrict “broad app visibility” in Android 11 or later. Broad app visibility is a function that allows apps to query your device and potentially see what other apps you have installed. Google says it considers data regarding other apps installed on a device to be sensitive information and is making this change to help increase user privacy.

More specifically, Google says that any app that “can operate with a more targeted scoped package visibility declaration” is not allowed to use the QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES call, which returns a list of every app on your Android device, while broad app visibility is “restricted to specific use cases where awareness of and/or interoperability with any and all apps on the device are required for the app to function.”

The types of apps that will be allowed to have broad app visibility include apps like file managers, browsers, antivirus apps, and others that simply cannot function without deeper access to other apps on your device, which means it will be especially important to make sure that those types of apps come from secure and trusted places.

Furthermore, in the future, Google says developers will need to properly justify the use of broad app visibility calls or remove the app’s permission to see a device’s app manifest. Starting April 1, Google is giving developers a 30-day grace period to edit or update their apps in response to the new policy. However, developers who don’t comply by May 5 risk having their apps removed or delisted from the Google Play store.

Over the last year or so, Google has been slowly cracking down on app permissions within Android, and this recent move to severely restrict broad app visibility is another small but important step to increasing the security of our apps and devices. And with Google set to force developers to build apps meant for Android 11 and above starting in November, we should see a notable improvement to Android’s security going forward.

Google’s Latest Pixel Feature Drop Is Packed With Useful Tweaks

Gif: Google

Google’s regular software updates have become one of the best parts about its Pixel phones. I admit this month’s new feature drop isn’t a game-changer, but it does comes with some handy new additions for underwater shooting, the Recorder app, adaptability, and more.

For people hoping to take their Pixel on bigger (deeper?) adventures, Google Pixel engineer José Ricardo Lima collaborated with Kraken Sports to add support for the Pixel to the company’s underwater Universal Smart Phone Housing, allowing you to use all your favorite Pixel camera features like Night Sight and Motion photos while swimming.

Illustration for article titled Google's Latest Pixel Feature Drop Is Packed With Useful Tweaks

Image: Google

Advertisement

Kraken’s case features a built-in vacuum port system to make sure your phone stays dry, and supports optional lens adapters for various macro and wide-angle shots. For more info on how underwater shooting with Kraken’s case works, you can check out Google’s support page here. 

In a more practical use case, Google has upgraded the super handy Recorder app with sharable links that make it easy to send saved audio files to anyone you want. And if you don’t own a Pixel, you can visit recorder.google.com to access many of the Recorder app’s features on the web, including the ability to view transcripts, listen to recordings, and search clips for specific words or phrases.

Illustration for article titled Google's Latest Pixel Feature Drop Is Packed With Useful Tweaks

Image: Google

Advertisement

When it comes to texting, Google is adding support for Smart Compose, which first debuted in Gmail back in 2018, to a wider range of messaging apps, so you can use machine learning to speed up quick replies.

And in keeping with Google’s emphasis on ambient computing, Pixel phones (Pixel 3 and newer) are getting updated bedtimes features in the Clock app when used with the Pixel Stand due to a new nighttime UI. Redesigned notifications will help you get to sleep easier.

Advertisement

Illustration for article titled Google's Latest Pixel Feature Drop Is Packed With Useful Tweaks

Image: Google

Finally, in support of International Women’s Day on March 8, Google is adding a selection of colorful new wallpapers for Pixel phones from Spanish illustration duo Cachetejack celebrating the event.

Advertisement

The latest Pixel feature drop will begin rolling out today, so if you don’t get it immediately, keep checking your phone throughout the week for Google’s latest software update.

Telegram Adds Simple Tool to Bring In Your WhatsApp Data

Illustration for article titled Telegram Adds Simple Tool to Bring In Your WhatsApp Data

Photo: Edward Smith (Getty Images)

Following the disastrous announcement of changes to its privacy policy, WhatsApp is losing the trust of millions of users who are now looking for a new encrypted messaging platform. Telegram claims it’s added 100 million new users this month alone, and it hopes its new ability to transfer WhatsApp chat histories will accelerate the transition.

On Thursday, Telegram launched a move-history tool that allows users to import their chats from WhatsApp, Line, and KakaoTalk. According to the company, videos and documents will also transfer into Telegram. Here’s how you do it on WhatsApp:

To move a chat from WhatsApp on iOS, open the Contact Info or Group Info page in WhatsApp, tap Export Chat, then choose Telegram in the Share menu.

On Android, open a WhatsApp chat, tap ⋮ > More > Export Chat, then choose Telegram in the Share menu

Advertisement

The company said that chats will be added to Telegram on the day that they’re imported but will still contain the original timestamps for reference. It’s also added a few feature tweaks to its audio player, some new greeting stickers, updated animations on Android, and an ability to report fake accounts.

When it comes to encrypted messaging, the important thing is trust and security. For quite some time, Signal has had the best reputation when it comes to those qualities, but some users are put off by its lack of features. But that’s changing fast. Signal started rolling out updates to its Android and iOS apps today, adding chat wallpapers, an “About” field for profiles, animated stickers, and more efficient data usage. The effort to make Signal more friendly for new users has caused some controversy at the small non-profit as some employees fear complicating the app could lead to the same moderation troubles plaguing social media networks. But there’s still every reason to believe that Signal is the best private messaging app out there.

WhatsApp uses Signal’s encryption protocol, but it collects more metadata on users and, well, it’s owned by Facebook. After announcing some changes to its privacy policy that would only affect data-sharing as it applies to messaging a business, people freaked out. And the company has been whining ever since that it’s been a victim of misinformation and misunderstanding. One could argue that users are overreacting, but Facebook has lost the privilege of being given the benefit of the doubt. WhatsApp’s founders left the company warning that Facebook was violating its mission to protect user privacy, and one of them, Brian Acton, went to Signal.

Despite all that, WhatsApp still felt comfortable enough to announce the addition of face-, thumbprint-, and eye-scanning on Thursday. It promised users that biometric data will be handled on the device and it cannot collect that information.

Advertisement

If you’re tired of trusting Facebook to make good on its promises, use Signal.