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Google improves Gmail experience for feature phone users with ‘brand new look’

The feature phone may be gradually losing the battle to the more feature-rich smartphone but there are of course still millions in use around the world, especially in developing countries.

Aware that the device is likely to be around for a while yet, and eager to make access to its services as straightforward as possible, Google rolled out a Gmail update for feature phone users on Monday sporting “a brand new look” designed to make the Web-based email service faster and easier to use.

In a blog post detailing the update, Google product manager Ari Bezman said the update meant a user would have fewer buttons to press for reading, replying to and composing emails.

“For example, you can reply directly to a message from the thread view, you can choose to move to the previous or next conversation, and much more,” Bezman wrote in the post.

gmail feature phone

Recent data from analyst company Gartner showed sales of feature phones in the period from April to June this year totaled 210 million units, marking a 21 percent decline year-on-year. In contrast, smartphone sales hit 225 million units, showing a rise of 46.5 percent compared to the same period last year.

Commenting on the data, Gartner principal research analyst Anshul Gupta said, “Smartphones accounted for 51.8 percent of mobile phone sales in the second quarter of 2013, resulting in smartphone sales surpassing feature phone sales for the first time.”

That may well be the case, but with sales of feature phones still in the hundreds of millions, Google is keen to keep the customer satisfied and offer a decent mobile experience with its Web-based email service no matter the platform.

[Image: Hfng / Shutterstock]

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