Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Inbox by Gmail for Educators Part 2

In part 1 we looked at some of the new features that Inbox brought to email. You can read about it HERE. In part 2 we will look at some of the other features that Inbox uses. Some of them are new, some of the features are in Outlook, but in my opinion Google has done a better job of implementing it.

Quick Replies
How many times have you received an email and just needed to reply with a "yes", "no", or "ok"? It happens more frequently than you might think. Inbox came with Quick Replies built in.
It will "read" your email to see if a quick reply can be used. Inbox learns overtime your style of writing, so the emails look like you typed them. So now instead of clicking on reply and typing, you click on the response you want and hit send. Inbox has these small features that save little bits of time that add up over the course of the year. Regular Gmail just started to implement the Quick Replies as well.

Recall Sent Emails
Here's another nice feature, you send an email and as soon as you click "Send",
you realize that you forgot some information. Instead of typing a new email, Inbox has a feature to stop the email from being sending. When you send an email in Inbox, a small window appears in the bottom left. If you click undo, the email pops back up like you never sent it. This might also help if you accidentally send an email that you shouldn't have sent. The window stays open for about 5-10 seconds.  This feature is also in regular Gmail, but has to be enabled in the settings. For Inbox, it is turned on by default.

Preview Attachments without opening the email
We've all had this happen. We get an email and we see the little paperclip, so there is an attachment.
If we want to see the attachment, we have to open the email and then open the attachment. Inbox shows the attachment below the subject and you can open the attachment without opening the message. This is extremely useful if you are just expecting a file and don't want to read the generic "Here you go" message that goes with it.

Pin Emails
This is a feature that is available in Outlook. Some might like the way they implement it, others might prefer Inbox's method. In Outlook a pinned email goes to the top of the inbox and stays there until you delete the email or unpin it.

Inbox works a little differently. You pin the email, but it doesn't move to the top. It stays where it was delivered. If you mark it as Done, it goes away. Inbox has a small toggle switch at the top. When you switch it on all of you pinned emails appear, whether they are marked as done or not.

Each version has their pros & cons. I don't pin emails as much with some of the other features like Snooze, but it is there.

Spam Filter
This is something else that is built into Outlook, but Inbox's version just works better. I get a ton of junk email in my main inbox that Outlook just doesn't identify as spam. Inbox picks up almost all of it. And once I identify it as junk, I never see it again.

Another feature that Outlook has, but once again Inbox just works better. With Outlook, I find myself just waiting for the search to finish. Inbox's search pops up almost instantaneously.

Google has found a way to re-invent the wheel. Email has been around for awhile, but instead of keeping it the status quo, they pushed the boundaries and tried something new. Inbox gives you more control over your email. All of the tiny shortcuts to save time add up and really makes you more efficient.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Review: Asus Chromebook Flip (2nd generation)

I can't believe I forgot to take pictures of the Flip for this review. A little back story, for Christmas I decided to use a gift card to buy myself a new Chromebook. I wanted a Chromebook that rotated into a tablet. I have the Note 10.1 tablet from 2012 and it is starting to slow down. So I figured if I got a convertible Chromebook, I would have the best of both worlds.

I settled on the Flip because I use my Note 10.1 tablet I figured I would be used to the size. It is the smallest Chromebook I have ever owned. I have a Dell Chromebook 13 that I use for work when I have meetings outside of my room. I have used my daughter's Lenovo 11.6 Chromebook and my wife had a 15.6 inch Acer Chromebook. The small size didn't really bother me that much in tablet mode, but in laptop mode I did find the keyboard cramp.

The build is very nice. It is made of all aluminum and it didn't feel like it was only $250. When flipped in tablet mode, I didn't find the keyboard on the back distracting. It was there and you got used to touching the keys as you held it.

I ran the Octane benchmark (even though it isn't official anymore) and it scored just under 10,000 each time. It was the lowest score of any of my Chromebooks minus my daughter's. I did have it freeze a couple of times. I had about 6-7 tabs open. And when I tried to switch between the tabs I couldn't. It sat there for a few seconds and then went black and restarted.

So after 8 days I returned it, why? Well, I just didn't need it and it didn't do enough for me to be able to keep it. My Dell runs Android apps and it has a touchscreen as well. The only thing it can't do is go into tablet mode.  I didn't use it in tablet mode as much as I thought I would.

Am I saying that a two in one Chromebook isn't useful? I don't know, all I know is that for my the Flip isn't that solution. Maybe the Samsung Plus or Pro might be better.