In-box preview makes Gmail's loading less painful

Gmail's in-box preview lets you see the latest 10 messages while Gmail continues to load in the background. It's aimed at people with a slow connection, but also manages to make Gmail's loading screen less painful.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn

Gmail has a new feature in its labs section aimed at people with bad connections who still want to use the fancypants JavaScript-filled "new" version of the popular Web mail service. It shows a quick preview of the latest 10 messages while Gmail's loading bar makes its slow march toward completion.

You can't actually read these messages, but you can quickly see if you have new ones. Users on a fast connection will only see the preview for a mere second or two before the in-box opens up. But for those on the very thread of a cellular data line, or on some chuggy dial-up, Google is pitching this as a simple way to see if those latest messages are worth the loading wait.

While relatively useless to users with fast connections, this is still a nice alternative to switching over to the HTML version of Gmail, which survives for the sake of compatibility on older machines and browsers. The switch over to that version forgoes many niceties such as no page refreshing, and the use of Gmail labs features.

The in-box preview shows you the latest 10 messages in your in-box while Gmail quietly loads in the background. CNET