Gmail could soon get a whole lot functional. Google will now allow developers to create add-ons for Gmail, which will work directly in Gmail instead of as a Chrome extension. What that means is that they’ll be usable all across the web and on multiple different types of devices.
For now, however, the new feature will primarily be for enterprises. The company is working with Intuit, Salesforce, and Prosperworks. According to Google, the add-ons will depend on context, so they may or may not show up depending on the content of the email that you’re replying to. Currently, add-ons for Gmail are only available as a developer preview.
The new Intuit Gmail add-on will perhaps be the most useful, and it allows users like QuickBooks small business customers to quickly and easily generate invoices straight from Gmail itself.
The fact that Google is at least thinking about add-ons for Gmail suggests that we could soon see the feature roll out on a wider scale. Not only that, but as developers start building add-ons, they could become more and more useful for the general consumer. For now, however, keep in mind that they’re enterprise-focused.
“They’re built on a powerful framework, which makes it easy for developers to trigger workflows based on email content,” said Google in a blog post announcing the new feature. “Say a Gmail user receives an email from a sales lead, and wants to add that contact to her CRM solution. With Gmail Add-ons, she can enter the contact’s required info and look up their account in that CRM system without leaving Gmail.”
It’s also important to note that, at least for now, there won’t be an add-on marketplace where you can get these Gmail add-ons. Instead, according to a report from The Verge, companies will need to partner with Google to get access to the functionality. It’s very possible that will change in the future though.