Google today announced a small but cool update to Gmail. For emails where the developer has enabled this feature, Google will now show action buttons next to emails in your inbox that let you take actions without even opening the message. The cool thing about this, however, is that it’s open to developers, who can now use the schema.org markup language to add their own actions to Gmail messages.
Google says developers could, for example, use this for confirmation emails when somebody registers to a site, or they could present magazine subscribers with a one-click action to renew their subscriptions or review a product, movies, restaurants or services. Developers could also use this to augment flight confirmation emails and allow users to respond to a meeting invitation right from the inbox without ever opening the email.
Declaring these actions should be easy for developers who simply have to add a straightforward piece of code to their emails.
More importantly, this makes emails more interactive than ever before. For the most part, email providers do not allow any code to run inside an HTML email. While Microsoft has experimented with whitelisting a few email senders and allowed them to run scripts inside the inbox, Google seems to be willing to open its system up to any developers.
It’s important to note that the company has implemented a couple of security measures that should ensure that the user’s information remains safe. All actions, for example, have to be handled via HTTPS URLs, and hosts must have vaild SSL certificates.
myERP, a popular all-in-one cloud-based business app for accounting, billing, project management and CRM, for example, has already implemented the buttons, and others will surely follow very soon.