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Gmail update's streamlined interface hits the spot

Google has rolled out a few interface adjustments to its Gmail in-browser email service. The contacts section has undergone a makeover, and crucially your first email is now 16 pixels higher

We're huge Gmail fans here in the office, so the thought of The Big G tinkering with our favourite browser-based email system fills us with fear and apprehension. But tinker is exactly what Google has done -- making some fairly radical adjustments to the Contacts section of Gmail and to the interface in general. So what's changed?

Cosmetically, Google has given the all-important top-left options a wee makeover. Brand new is a great big 'Compose mail' button, which replaces the standard link, which was a little tricky to locate in a hurry.

Your first email now appears closer to the top of your browser window -- Google reckons it's about 16 pixels higher. So, uh... enjoy that.

The Contacts section has seen the greatest overhaul. The key things to note are that you can now add custom labels to your contacts, for instance labelling a phone number as 'second mobile' or 'Batphone'. Google has given a fairly comprehensive explanation of what's changed on its blog.

Tinkering around with your contacts is much easier now thanks to automatic saving. It's the same regular saving system employed in Google Docs. Don't worry if you screw something up however -- you can now undo changes to your contacts.

You can also keep your digital Filofax nice and trim by merging contacts. Check the boxes next to each name, then select 'Merge contacts' from the drop-down menu along the top.

We like the changes, though we've noticed it's not possible to drag the contacts tab down below your various inboxes -- if you don't use it much and would rather not have it hogging valuable screen real-estate, the option to move it would be useful.

Get on that, alright Google? Ta.