In a strategic attempt to streamline and simplify the often complicated process of meeting scheduling, Google has released new features for Gmail that integrate closely with Google Calendar. The newly introduced capabilities involve quick event creation and easy sharing of availability.
Google’s Attempt to Simplify Scheduling
Traditionally, scheduling a meeting over email has proven to be complicated, often necessitating third-party systems such as Calendly or endless back-and-forths until a suitable time is found. Google’s latest efforts aim to ease this complexity by integrating a new system directly into Gmail, thus saving users valuable time and effort.
Gmail now sports a calendar icon at the bottom of the conversation view to access these new features. Clicking on this icon presents two options: “Create an event” and “Offer times you’re free.”
Create an Event
The “Create an event” option has been designed to be fairly intuitive. By clicking on it, users can generate a Google Calendar event with the email subject automatically filled in as the event name and recipients of the email as participants. This option also creates a meeting summary in the email body to share the meeting details with all parties involved quickly. While this feature was previously available in Gmail, it was buried in the three-dot menu. The relocation of this feature to the main toolbar has made it more accessible.
Offer Times You’re Free
The second feature, “Offer times you’re free,” is a new addition to Gmail. When users select this option, their calendar opens up in the sidebar, allowing them to drag slots across different days that they wish to share with the recipient. While this option can be used to share availability with multiple people, the first person to accept a slot will be automatically added to the invite.
The Competitive Landscape of Scheduling Tools
The scheduling space is crowded, with tools like Calendly, open-source Cal.com, Spark Capital-backed Amie, and Y-Combinator-backed Vimcal offering various features to users. With these latest additions, Google aims to provide an easy alternative to these tools, particularly for scheduling 1:1 meetings and sharing availability.
Recent Developments in Google Calendar
Google Calendar is not resting on its laurels and has been on a spree of releasing new features. These include support for paid meetings via Stripe account integration, a boon for freelancers who can now take paid meetings directly through Google Calendar. Furthermore, a feature released last week allows hybrid workers to share their work location based on the time of the day, indicating whether they’re working from home, the office, or another location.
Availability of the New Features
Google has begun rolling out these updates for Rapid Release domains over the next two weeks and to Scheduled Release domains in the first half of August. To begin with, users will only be able to use the “Offer times you’re free” feature for their primary calendar. For more information on these new features and their availability, visit Google Workspace Updates.
These features signify a promising shift in Google’s approach toward integrating its tools and services, creating a more user-friendly experience for both professional and personal users alike.
The User Experience
The addition of the calendar icon in the Gmail interface eliminates the need for users to switch between different windows or tabs when planning meetings, thereby reducing distractions and enhancing productivity. Users can now stay within their email draft, view their schedule, and mark their available time slots, all within a single view. This seamless integration is a nod to Google’s commitment to improving user experience.