Gmail is taking a few cues from its tablet apps with Preview Pane, Google’s newest Gmail Labs feature.
Preview Pane, which is now available in Gmail Labs, allows users to simultaneously preview parts of an email while reading or replying to others. Users of Gmail for iPad or Android will instantly recognize the interface — its design is directly inspired by the email service’s mobile web apps.
Activating Preview Pane opens up a three-window panel for Gmail, with the Preview Pane in between the navigation and email panes. Activating the horizontal split places the preview pane at the top and emails below the preview pane. Users can change pane settings with a button that appears on the top right corner of Gmail. Google‘s Official Gmail Blog suggests that users with higher-resolution screens will get the most out of the feature.
The concept of a Preview Pane sounds intriguing, but my initial tests lead me to conclude it’s a clunky and incomplete product. It breaks up my Gmail Labels in a way that keeps them from lining up with Gmail’s navigation pane, leading to a ugly and cluttered look. The standard two-pane system is cleaner, although you probably can get through more emails with Preview Pane activated.
Will you be switching to Preview Pane?