Tech News : New Feature To Declutter Your Gmail Inbox

Included in a recent major update to Google’s Gmail on Android (for now), a new feature can help users to declutter and remove annoying spam from their inbox.

Select All Option

The new feature (currently being rolled out) enables users to use a “Select all” tick box that appears above (top left) in the inbox (on the Gmail for Android app) when the user long holds on an email. Selecting the tick box then means all 50 emails displayed on the page are be selected at once and then deleted with one tap or organised as required.

Easy Unsubscribe 

Also, Gmail for Android now includes a straightforward way to unsubscribe. Users can now click on an email from a company whose mailing list they have subscribed to and a clear ‘Unsubscribe’ link is now shown top right in the email, rather than having to scroll to the bottom. This could help speed up and simplify the process of decluttering the Gmail inbox.

It should be noted, however, that on trying this out on an (Android) Gmail inbox, it didn’t appear to display the unsubscribe link at the top of certain emails. Google has said that Google Pixel phones are first in line for the changes, and more Android devices will follow.

For those users who don’t see the unsubscribe link at the top of emails, it may also be the case that they don’t have the latest version of the Gmail app.

What’s So Bad About Email Inbox Clutter? 

As highlighted by a Zipwhip study (2020), email box clutter is common with 39 per cent of individuals having over 100 unread emails, and 20 per cent having over 1,000 unread emails. Mailbird’s Email Overload Survey, helps explain how the problem can build up, with the majority of workers receiving between 61 to 100 emails daily, but with only a minor fraction of these relevant to their actual work.

This is an important subject, particularly for businesses, because some of main problems and issues that email inbox clutter can cause include:

– Feeling overwhelmed by too many unread emails has been shown to reduce enthusiasm and create a sense of frustration.

– A loss of productivity and wasted time (and money) can result from having to sift through irrelevant emails, distracting from meaningful and value-adding work.

– The increased stress that can result from a relentless flow of emails and the effort to manage them can heighten anxiety.

– Disrupted focus from constant email notifications can lead to frequent context switching and hinder job efficiency.

– The potential to miss crucial messages that can get lost in the clutter.

New Spam-Reducing Guidelines From February

One way that spam and email box clutter is to be tackled from the other direction is through newly expanded Google and Yahoo guidelines for high-volume emailers, which come into force from 1 February. The Guidelines will essentially force all bulk emailers (5,000 or more email a-day senders) using Yahoo and Google to adhere to strict new rules. The hope is that this could hit some spammers hard, perhaps reducing the amount of spam in our inboxes.

What Else Can Be Done? 

In addition to the decluttering features introduced by email providers such as Google or Microsoft, general good practice that can minimise email inbox clutter includes:

– Getting into the habit of regularly cleaning out old or irrelevant emails (and unsubscribing) and checking emails at designated times to avoid constant interruptions.

– Using folders or labels to categorise emails and prioritise important ones.

– Keeping work and personal emails in separate accounts to manage them more effectively.

– Adjusting email notification settings to reduce distractions and maintain focus on current tasks.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

With email still being a critical communications centre for businesses, finding effective, fast, free / low-cost ways to declutter and escape from spam can bring many benefits (as outlined above). In the case of Gmail, users have long wanted better decluttering tools, so these new features are likely to be welcomed and used.

As expected (being Google), it is Android Gmail app users who benefit first and the hope is that the features are extended to Apple’s iOS soon. It’s likely to be the case that for most users, Gmail is not their main business email, and this is likely to be a contributor to the build-up of clutter. That said, various Gmail accounts may be used by many SMEs at various points in their value chains so anything that helps save time, enable them to cut through clutter, and quickly spot the most valuable communications and opportunities is likely to be welcome. Microsoft, for example, introduced several business-focused features in an update in November such as advanced email handling rules, which included multi-layered rules for filtering and managing emails. It’s no surprise, therefore, that Google is now upping its (email) game and is likely to continue doing so, hopefully making our lives easier in the process.

An Apple Byte : ChatGPT Voice Free To All iOS Users

OpenAI’s president and co-founder, Greg Brockman, has announced that ‘ChatGPT Voice’ in its ChatGPT app, previously only available to Plus and Enterprise subscribers, is now available free to all iOS and Android users.

ChatGPT Voice (originally introduced in September) integrates voice capabilities with the existing ChatGPT text-based model. This allows users to have a conversation with it and ask the ChatGPT chatbot questions and be given answers, all by voice, i.e. talking to the app on your device. Greg Brockman said on X that the feature “totally changes the ChatGPT experience.”

iOS users who want to try ChatGPT Voice can access it in their ChatGPT app now. An example video of what ChatGPT Voice can do has been posted by Greg Brockman on X here.

Tech News : Android Update Glitch Causing Silent 999 Calls

A recent update to Android 13 has led to reports of an increase in the number of false 999 calls / ‘silent’ calls.

Reports By Police 

The police have reported that an increase in the number of silent 999 calls in recent months is likely to be the result of the updated ‘SOS’ feature in android phones. For example, the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) recently tweeted information it had been given by North Yorkshire Police saying “Nationally, all emergency services are currently experiencing record high 999 call volumes. There’s a few reasons for this but one we think is having a significant impact is an update to Android smartphones”. 

Updated SOS Feature Causing It 

The SOS feature on Android phones is a built-in emergency feature that allows users to quickly and easily contact the emergency services in critical situations. It can be activated through various methods, such as pressing a dedicated SOS button, rapidly pressing the power button multiple times, or using specific gestures on the screen. The exact method may depend on the phone model and the software version, however the main method in the UK (until recently) was by pressing the power button five times.

However, a recent update to Google’s Android OS means that the feature can now be activated by simply pressing and holding the power button on a phone for a few seconds. This has not only made it even easier to contact the emergency services but, it is believed, may also have made it easier to accidentally contact the emergency services and is what the police believe is behind the increase in silent 999 calls from Android phones.

Putting Extra Strain On Emergency Services 

UK emergency services call handlers don’t ignore silent calls and must spend time trying to call the person back to check whether help is needed. The rise in silent calls has, therefore put more strain on the emergency services.

Google Working To Resolve The Issue 

It is up to the Android phone manufacturers who choose to offer Emergency SOS on their devices how to manage the implementation of the SOS feature and Google has been reported as saying that it will be providing guidance and resources to these OEMs to help resolve the issue.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

The SOS feature, introduced with Android 12 and made even simpler to operate with the Android 13 update, may have been well intentioned but clearly has a negative downside which has been putting extra strain on the emergency services which could, potentially, have a human cost. It is tempting to ask why the potential for increasing silent 999 calls was not spotted before the update was signed off, and putting the responsibility of OEMs and having to work with different ones to resolve the issue seems a complicated system that could mean that the fix is not as fast as it could be.

For those who do accidentally dial 999, the advice is that people shouldn’t simply hang up but to stay on the line and inform the operator that it was an accident and assistance is not required. Android users can also choose to switch off the SOS feature in their phones, although this may, of course, carry a risk of its own.

Tech Tip – Force Your Android Screen To Be Bright – Even When You’ve a Low battery

If you’ve less than a minimum threshold of battery life left, Android Phones typically automatically dim the screen (making it almost unreadable) sometimes when you need to be able to read it the most! If you want to force it to be bright (even at the expense of rapidly draining the last of the battery-life) here’s how:

Open Settings: This is usually represented by a gear icon on your home screen or in your app drawer.

Navigate to Display: This is where you’ll find all the settings related to your screen, including brightness.

Adjust Brightness Level: There should be a slider that allows you to manually adjust the brightness of your screen. Slide it all the way to the right to maximize brightness.

Disable Adaptive (or Auto) Brightness: This setting automatically adjusts your screen brightness based on the ambient light. You’ll want to turn this off to maintain a constant brightness level.

Battery Saver Mode: Go back to the main settings menu and find “Battery” or “Power”. If your phone has a battery saver mode that’s turned on, it might be reducing your screen brightness to save power. You can usually adjust the settings of this mode, or turn it off entirely, to prevent it from dimming your screen.

Please note that keeping your screen brightness at maximum will drain your battery more quickly, which could be a problem if your battery is already low. Also, these instructions might vary slightly depending on the make and model of your Android phone, as different manufacturers sometimes use different names for these settings or organize them differently.

In an emergency, it’s also worth considering other ways to conserve battery life, such as closing unnecessary apps, turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and disabling background data for apps.