Google has announced the developer preview of Gmail Add-ons which provides a new way for G Suite users to access an app's functionality directly from Gmail.
G Suite is the new name, since September 2016, of Google Apps for Work. Priced from $5 per user per month it encompasses Google's productivity tools - Doc, Sheets, Forms, with Google Drive for storage, security and admin tools and Google's all important communication facilities - shared calendars, video conferencing and business email, which is Gmail but with mycompany.com in the email address.
Gmail adds-on will give users extra facilities they can use from within Gmail:
Gmail Add-ons let your users access your app's functionality in Gmail with just one tap, no matter the device. They're built on a powerful new framework that lets you trigger workflows based on email content. So whether your app helps track sales leads, log support tickets or generate invoices, Add-ons are the perfect way to provide your offering in context. No more tabbing, copying/pasting or sifting between apps on mobile—Add-ons help your users take care of business right away.
For developers the new framework offers the advantage of being cross-platform:
Developers can write their Gmail Add-on once, and it’ll run natively in Gmail on web, Android and iOS right away. Gmail Add-ons are built in Apps Script using a newly-designed "Card" system that lets you easily combine different UI components. Developers can create a snappy user experience that feels like it was natively built into Gmail. The result: integrations that are cross-platform from the get-go that save your team time.
Google has partnered with three big name companies to come up with add-ons that are obviously attractive to many business users:
Intuit QuickBooks: The Intuit Add-on lets Gmail users and QuickBooks small business customers generate and send invoices and even confirm invoice status without ever leaving Gmail.
ProsperWorks: The ProsperWorks Add-on makes it easy for Gmail users to check the contact info of people on email threads against the information stored in their CRM.
Salesforce: The Salesforce Add-on allows Gmail users to look up existing contacts, add new ones, as well as associate email threads with one or more existing opportunities in Salesforce, right from the Gmail app.
These add-ons will be available in the G Suite Marketplace "later this year". But there will be others there too.
Google expects to start sending invitations for early developer access soon and is is inviting its developer community to sign up for the Gmail Add-ons Developer Preview. You fill in a form outlining your details and your add-on use case. A final question asks if you have a Chrome Extension for an app that works with Gmail and if so to provide a link to it.
In January, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that more than 3 million paying businesses are now using G Suite.This makes Gmail Add-ons seem an attractive new way to target a market that ranges from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. What is missing at the moment is any indication of how the G Suite Marketplace will operate and whether this could be a lucrative opportunity for developers.