For mobile, Gmail is great; and without much fanfare, Google Calendar get’s the job done. However, the two together are, meh.
Happy new year! If you’re like me, the end of the year speeds up to a blur of emails coordinating holidays, dinners, parties, even holiday dinner parties and the calendar, packed with reminders and lists, is as bloated as I feel from the holiday sweets and treats.
I could have used some help sorting myself out, but the deluge was too much for Gmail and Google Calendar, which were not working well together on mobile.
Let’s start with an introduction: Gmail, meet Google Calendar. I know, you’re probably thinking “Dude, Gmail is totally integrated with Google Calendar.” (Not that you talk like that.)
Sure, Gmail for desktop browsers is somewhat integrated with Google Calendar, which BTW continues to be the unsexy, utility player in the Google productivity suite. The issue is with mobile, on my phone it’s like they never met.
Calendar Invites in Gmail
Calendar invites clearly stand out - even better than traditional desktop email software clients like Microsoft Outlook - and this is even better with Google Inbox, but you know how I feel about that. Calendar specific attributes like who, what, where, and when are all given first class treatment. Furthermore, the Inbox list view, even includes a crisp calendar icon with the actual day, so events stand apart from other email messages.
The design is clean, bold, and free of non-essentials.
THE OPPORTUNITY FOR IMPROVEMENT.
So why focus on Gmail + Google Calendar? The inadequacy is creating Google Calendar items from Gmail; and I can’t ignore the potential for greatness and missed opportunities. I present two examples:
Create a Google Calendar Event from Gmail
I get it, as a product guy, I understand that users often don't know the full story and functionality, seemingly straightforward, is not. But come on! this already exists on Gmail for desktop browsers, just add it to mobile.
BTW, in Microsoft Outlook this is drag & drop, email into calendar, to pop open an event with the email text embedded in the body; while clunky, it works. Come on Gmail, even Microsoft is showing you up here.
Quick Add to Calendar
It may be a minor comfort, but where are the smart “Add to Calendar” links, we know and love? If you’re not yet smitten, Gmail recognizes dates and provides a sweet time saver for creating an event and can even look back to associate a time with a nearby date.
Where is this for mobile? I can even check into my flights, which is awesome! but I can’t simply add this to my calendar and wouldn’t it be great to send reminders to friends, perhaps those I’m visiting? These are Calendar + Email basics, just say’n.
The fix for mobile: Replace the mouse over with a one-tap to reveal the “Add to Calendar” menu, the rest would behave the same as Gmail for desktop.
As an example, let’s say we’re planning a ski trip to Tahoe.
We’ll volley a few emails back and forth to agree on dates
Start a list of things with assignment so we all don’t bring just marshmallows, leaving us a few bars of chocolate and graham crackers short of s'mores
Once we have agreed on when, who, and what we’re bringing, I should be able to select the “Add to Calendar” line around the dates and create a calendar invite to everyone on the DL (with a final chance to edit before sending)
Once again, this is not rocket-surgery.
With the recent Gmail upgrade automatically adding Reservation Confirmations to Calendar, the future is almost here. While close, I still can’t add all other emails (not of a specific reservation confirmation format) to my calendar. And there’s no mobile answer for the “Add to Calendar” underline to create a calendar event from the enclosed email. And, eh hem, can we all just accept Google Inbox as the new Gmail and move on.
THE BOTTOM LINE.
Gmail + Google Calendar on desktop browsers is good and showing more promise with recent updates, and the recent addition of Google Inbox, the future is bright! On the other hand, Gmail + Google Calendar integration on mobile leaves much to be desired; and not exactly “mobile first.” So in the meantime, I still have a strong excuse for missing the occasional appointment that never made it from email to my calendar.