Facebook Unveils New Messaging Service That Will Revolutionize Communication

Is Facebook trying to conquer the world?  It seems so.

On Monday, Facebook held a conference in California where a new messaging service powered by the uber-giant, social-networking site was unveiled.

There has been a lot of speculation and buzz the past few weeks and months about Facebook’s version of email.  While it’s being officially called “Project Titan”, I think its “codename” the “Gmail Killer” is a lot cooler. And let’s face it, if anyone can take on Google – it’s Facebook.

So will Facebook’s new messaging client bring an end to the ever so popular Gmail or will it be able to compete with Yahoo, MSN and other various web emails?

From the looks of it – I think that “Project Titan” has the potential to be an “email killer” in general even though it’s really not a form of email, but more a form of omnipotent communication.

Let’s face it, our society today is moving past connecting through email. We have moved onto more instant forms of communications, like texting.

I can tell you from personal experience, it’s true. I’m the President of business group (Collegiate DECA) and an honor society (Phi Theta Kappa) and I learned that if I want to get in contact with my members that email is not the way. It took almost two weeks for everyone to contact me back via email. The next time I needed to contact everyone I texted them and within a day I had responses from everyone. Texting and instant messaging are taking over our world.

Email is not real time. We want to be able to communicate instantly. Facebook knows this and they are creating their messaging client around that concept.

The three main elements of the messaging client are seamless messaging, conversation history and a social inbox.  So how do these work? Let’s break them down.

Seamless Messaging

From the press conference, Zuckerburg talked about how the messaging client will be seamlessly integrated among all the ways that people communicate. What I got from this was that people will be able to write and respond to messages from various platforms such as texting, instant messaging, chat, and email. This will happen all within one page. If that not handy then I don’t know what it is. Forget trying to remember the best ways to get in touch with someone.

Conversation History

All these different types of communications from different types of platforms are really a hassle. Zuckerburg agrees.

I know I communicate through a myriad of platforms and a lot of times I get confused about where information is. Which email is it in, was it sent over IM, was it texted to me, did he/she tweet that to me, etc.

To have a client that combines all that would be amazing and would make my life so much easier and productive. It’s the future.

So basically, this messaging client is somehow going to take all the different platforms that two people communicate through and combine them into one thread. So for example, my brother and I will be able to see all the communications we have had through different platforms in one place. We will be able to see what we talked about over IM, over texting, and over email.

Nifty, right?

Social Inbox

From what Zuckerburg said in the press conference, the social inbox is going to be an inbox where Facebook will separate messages into three different categories. There will be a category that focuses on what’s important to you, what’s important to others, and a junk category. Basically Facebook is going to go through the messages and filter them so you get exactly what you want from who you want. As Zuckerburg noted, no more finding bills sandwiched in between a messages from you and your buddies.

Other Stuff

Besides the basics of Project Titan’s features, some of the other information disclosed during the press conference include: apps for cell phones, iPads, iPods, etc. are on their way;  350 million people use the messaging system that is already incorporated into Facebook, the majority of those messages are between two people; this is the biggest engineering task that Facebook has ever put together, and that team has been working on Project Titan for 15 months now; and that people will get a @facebook.com email address if they choose to sign up for the service.

That’s pretty much a short summary of what was talked about at the press conference in San Francisco on Monday. While specific information wasn’t given out, we really got a gist of what Facebook is about to do – which is making communication that much quicker, easier and more productive. They are making the future.

When Can I Get It?

Let me guess. After reading this, you want to sign up for “Project Titan”. Well I have some bad news – it’s not available just yet. Bummer, I know!

According to the press conference, the messaging system is going to be gradually rolled out over the next few months with invitations sent to certain people – more than likely people in the press and those that request invitations (you have to be logged in to request an invite).

My guess is that “Project Titan” is going to available for public use by summer 2011.

For more information on “Project Titan” you can visit the Facebook blog and remember to check back here at Techerator for future information!

For a little author/reader communication let me know what you think about the name? I’m actually not sure if “Project Titan” is going to be the official name or just what it’s being called now. Regardless, I think it’s a pretty stupid and cliché name. If you were asked to name Facebook’s new messaging client, what would you call it?

Leave your answer below in the comment section. Person with the best answer gets bonus points – which mean nothing.

Crack the Lid on Gmail’s Canned Responses to Dish Out Quick Replies

If you find yourself writing impersonal, repetitive emails often, Gmail’s Canned Responses feature is a great way to streamline this tedious process.  Canned Responses allows you to save pre-written messages, so next time you need to remind Ted that the wireless network’s ID is “Potato1” you can take care of it with just a couple clicks.

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To activate Canned Responses, open up Gmail and head to the Labs tab in Gmail Settings (you can also click the small green beaker in the top right corner).  Scroll down to Canned Responses and click Enable, then click the Save Changes button to activate it.

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The next time you finish writing a email that could be reused, click the new Canned responses menu under the To: field in Gmail where you can click New Canned Response and give it a name to save it.  Don’t worry about things like your signature or any quoted text from a reply – it automatically grabs only the part you’ve written.

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The next time you need to send out a similar reply, just open up the Canned responses menu and select your message.  It will be instantly inserted into your message.

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How to Send Automatic Canned Replies

There might be some messages that you always want to send canned replies to.  This can be easily accomplished by combining Gmail’s filter feature with Canned responses.  To create an automatic response, click the Create a filter link to the right of the search box at the top of Gmail.

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Specify the criteria for the message that you’re trying to identify.  In my case, I want to create a filter that looks for any message with the words “Press Release” in the subject.  Click Next Step once you’ve specified your filter.

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You can then select the option for Send canned response: and select the desired reply.  You can also choose options like Mark as read or Skip the Inbox to keep your inbox clean if you have no future need for the message.

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The next time an email matching the criteria you specified reaches your inbox, it will automatically receive the canned reply you created.

Conclusion

Canned responses are a great way to get responses out to people without going through the tedium of writing the same message over and over.  If you find yourself sending out impersonal, informational emails, this can save you a lot of time.  And if you want to make them more personal, leave a few fields so you can edit them before you send the message.

If you enjoyed this article, make sure to check out the rest of our helpful articles about Gmail!

Psych Out the Email Spammers By Using 10 Minute Mail

If you are like me, you have a few email accounts doing very specific things.  One account is most likely for work, another for personal, and then there is the illustrious spam account. This account is like a neglected shelf in the refrigerator.  Stuff comes in, sits a while, piles up, and before you know it, you are spending an entire afternoon trashing the junk and filtering the items that have accumulated.

Although I cannot help you stop the current influx of internet spam that enters that rotten, overflowing email account (or can I?), I can show you how to get important information immediately from sites that spam you and have them never bother you again.

How is this done?  By giving those pesky sites a temporary email account that expires.  That is exactly what 10 Minute Mail does for you.

When you go to 10 Minute Mail’s website, it looks like this.  At the center of the page, a temporary email address is given to you and below that 10 minutes of time to use it.  Just copy and paste the email address into whatever site you wish and watch the spammers go to town.

Man, this sender is ESPECIALLY annoying.

As long as you keep 10 Minute Mail open in your browser, you can view and read any mail that comes in on that temporary email address.  The site works exactly like a normal email account.  Read, reply, forward, 10 Minute Mail does it all.  But remember the catch: once 10 minutes are gone, so is your address and your accumulated mail.  Just like that.

Time is almost up!

…Okay, that is partially true.  There is a button on the page to ask for another 10 minutes with that email address.  But just remember, the longer you have the address, the longer you are letting them win.

Side Note: If spam filtering seems right up your alley, but you are looking for different method to get rid of email junk, try TrashMail instead (we’ve got a great article about TrashMail here). Which ever way you choose, the results will speak for themselves.

Spam Image Courtesy: freezelight’s Flickr

Priority Inbox: Gmail Tells You What Messages are Important, You Profit (?)

Busy people, rejoice.  Gmail, the primary electronic mail client offered by the giant Google, is getting a simple add-on sometime in the near future (it’s actually rolling out right now, but it will be a week before everybody has it).

What does it entail, one might ask?  Well, its a filter.  Not a new spam filter (Gmail already has one of those), but a new new filter that tells you, the user, what emails are important or not.  Yes, you hear me right: Google will soon tell you what emails are a priority or not.  Consider it a Priority Inbox – a new tier of mail sorting.  A bold step forward in email efficiency.

Still not convinced?  See for yourself in this nifty YouTube video.

According to Google, this filter is for sorting out the “bologna” or “bacn” emails (Are there any other email terms that use meat references?), or rather the mail that we don’t want immediately but would still like to read later.  Using what I can only assume is magic, the new filter also will note the frequency of emails from contacts as well as how often you reply to them and add them to the priority list.

If you do not like what Gmail is deeming important, buttons will be available to confirm or deny the priority of the emails coming in.  As the cute animated video mentioned, the system should adaptively get better and better the more you use it, eventually knowing what you personally like to see first when you check your mail.  Just like Skynet.

This cool new feature is currently in beta, but expect it to be coming to a Gmail inbox near you very soon (if it already hasn’t).  If more reading is necessary, the details of the Priority Inbox can be read on the official Gmail blog.

Thanks to Google, we can finally get some real work done (Like checking Facebook, surfing the web, and updating on Twitter).  Ah, the joys of efficiency.

Image Courtesy: GenBug’s Flickr

Gmail Improves Undo Send Feature, Saving Careers and Relationships

I’m probably a little over-paranoid, but I always get a slight wave of anxiety before I send an important email.  Questions like “Did I say the right things?”, “Did I address it to the correct person?”, and “Did I refrain from speaking like a pirate?” all rush through my head before I click that ominous little Send button.

As a relief to me, Gmail released an “Undo Send” feature quite awhile ago that gives you a small window of opportunity to un-send an email if you notice something wrong with it.  This feature is available in Gmail Labs, which you can access by clicking the small green beaker in the top right corner of Gmail.

You can then locate the “Undo Send” feature, click Enable, and scroll to the bottom of the page to click Save Changes.

Undo Send… Improved!

When Undo Send was first released, you had about 5-10 seconds to click the Undo button before the message was sent.  Now the good folks at Gmail have given us much more time (up to 30 seconds), and the ability to choose how much time we would like to have available.

After activating Undo Send in Gmail Labs, head over to the General tab of your Gmail Settings page.  Scroll down to the “Undo Send” options, where you can now use the dropdown menu to select the amount of time you would like to be able to un-send an email.

In my opinion, the more time, the better!

The next time you realize you just sent a steamy letter to your grandmother instead of your girlfriend, you can rest easy knowing that the email can be un-sent.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out the rest of our great articles about Gmail.

Gmail Adds Highly Requested Feature – Rich Text Signatures

I have a very simple email signature in Gmail, but I’ve always been disappointed that I wasn’t able to add links or change the formatting.  I mean, we can use the rich text editor in the main composition window of Gmail, why can’t we use it in our signatures?

For example, I get away with having a link to Techerator in my signature by writing out the full URL (and hoping that the recipient’s email client converts it to a link), instead of using text and a link such as “Techerator.com“.

Being one of their most widely suggested features, Gmail just enabled rich text signatures for all users.  To create a rich text signature, simply head to your Settings page and customize it to your liking.

Even better, you can now use the email drop down menu to create a custom signature for each email address you use.  This means you can have a professional work signature, a personal signature (perhaps with your phone number), or even a casual signature for your friends.

[via Official Gmail Blog]

Infographic: Study Shows Email is Still Our Favorite (with poll!)

Good news, anyone!  If you’ve ever been worried about communication services like Twitter or Facebook eroding the usefulness of your beloved email, a recent study by ExactTarget shows that email is still the king of our digital lives.

The study they conducted asked users “What is the first place you go online in a typical day?”, with a solid 58% of users reporting that they used email first.  This was followed by 20% of users using search engines, 11% using Facebook, and 5% using online news sites.  For me, I usually open up my browser and TweetDeck simultaneously, but I definitely put a priority on checking my email before anything else.

So how about you?  Vote in our poll below to see how we compare to their study.

[poll id=”9″]

[via Mashable]

Gmail Tip: How to Quickly View Unread Messages

If you’re like me, your inbox can get pretty cluttered with unread messages after being away from my computer for a day. Since I use multiple inboxes to split my Gmail inbox into several smaller inboxes, I can have unread messages all over the place on a particularly busy day.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to turn a handy Gmail search query into a dedicated Unread Messages button.

Step One:  In Gmail, go to Gmail Labs and enable Quick Links.

Be sure to click Save changes at the bottom of the page after you’ve clicked the Enable button.

Step Two: Type is:unread in the Gmail search bar and press enter.  This search query will display any unread message in your inbox.

Step 3: Locate the new Quick Links box on the left sidebar of Gmail.  Click Add Quick Link then give it a title.

That’s it!  You will now have a handy button to instantly view your unread messages.  This same technique can be applied to any Gmail search query to quickly view your messages.

How to Manage, Mute, or Complete Hide Google Buzz Notifications in Gmail

Love it or hate it, Google Buzz can make a lot of noise in your inbox if you have a few engaged followers.  When any of your followers reply to a message you post in Buzz, you will receive a notification in your inbox that contains a live view of the Buzz message.  This is really handy if you like staying up-to-date with your conversations, but if you’re like me and view your inbox as hallowed ground it can be quite distressing.

No more inbox zero.

Thankfully, you can use Gmail’s great filtering feature to either quiet these notifications or make them disappear completely.

Muting Google Buzz Notifications

If you want Google Buzz notifications to appear in your inbox but not increase the amount of unread messages you have, this is the guide you will want to follow.

Step 1: Click Create a filter at the top of Gmail, just to the right of the search bar.

Step 2: In the Has the words: field, enter label:buzz.  To see if it worked, you can click the Test Search button which will immediately show the messages that are affected.  Click Next Step.

Note: Gmail will notify you that you shouldn’t use the label: filter in this field, but it will still work just fine.  Click OK when notified to continue.

Step 3: Check the Mark as read box.  You can also check Also apply filter… to mark additional Buzz messages as read.  Click Create Filter.

You will continue to receive Buzz notifications, but they will automatically be marked as read when they appear in your inbox so you’ll never have an inflated unread messages count.

Hiding Google Buzz Notifications

If you want to use Google Buzz but don’t want to see notifications at all, this guide is for you.

Step 1: Click Create a filter at the top of Gmail, just to the right of the search bar.

Step 2: In the Has the words: field, enter label:buzz.  To see if it worked, you can click the Test Search button which will immediately show the messages that are affected.  Click Next Step.

Note: Gmail will notify you that you shouldn’t use the label: filter in this field, but it will still work just fine.  Click OK when notified to continue.

Step 3: Check the Skip the Inbox and Mark as read buttons.  You can also check Also apply filter… to hide any earlier notifications.

Now when you receive a Buzz notification, it will automatically be marked as read and will also be stored in Gmail’s archive and will not appear at all in your inbox.

Managing Google Buzz Notifications

If you want to still receive Google Buzz notifications but want them to be exclusively separated from the rest of your inbox, this guide is for you. This guide will use the Multiple Inbox feature which is available in Gmail Labs to separate Buzz notifications from the rest of your inbox.

Step 1: Activate Multiple Inboxes in Gmail Labs by clicking Enable then Save changes at the bottom of the list.

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Step 2: Click Create a filter at the top of Gmail, just to the right of the search bar.

Step 3: In the Has the words: field, enter label:buzz.  To see if it worked, you can click the Test Search button which will immediately show the messages that are affected.  Click Next Step.

Note: Gmail will notify you that you shouldn’t use the label: filter in this field, but it will still work just fine.  Click OK when notified to continue.

Step 4: Check the Skip the Inbox button.  You can also check Also apply filter… to manage any earlier notifications.

Step 5: Go to Gmail Settings and click the Multiple Inboxes tab.  Enter label:buzz in one of the Search query boxes and you can name it anything you like.  Click Save changes.

Now when you receive a Google Buzz notification, it will only appear in a secondary inbox and not get in the way of your other important messages.

Have any Google Buzz tips?  Share them with us in the comments!

Gmail Now Uses Secure HTTPS Connection by Default

When you see a web address that starts with https, it’s typically for something important like your bank account or online shopping.  That prefix means the information you submit – credit cards, home addresses, or social security numbers – are kept private between your computer and the site you’re visiting.

Gmail started offering secure https access to their web-based email service in 2008, but it was optional and had to be manually enabled in your settings.  Google explains that they were reluctant to push https access to all users because with extra security comes a compromise: secure data travels slower than unsecure data.  After looking at the security/latency tradeoff for web applications, however, they decided to encrypt all traffic by default.

The new https feature is currently being rolled out to all Gmail users, but you can set it manually yourself in Gmail settings if it hasn’t taken effect yet.  For users already using https in Gmail – good work, you’ll notice no difference!

[Official Gmail Blog]