It goes without saying that the launch of GMail made a lot more people aware of the potential of such technologies as AJAX. Launched on April 1, 2004 Gmail has been in beta testing for the whole of its life time to a point that you are getting a new version of it. I don’t understand the rationale behind the perpetual beta status but it seems to be unnecessary. In the latest update to Gmail Beta, we have a new version which ushers in a new contacts manager; this is perhaps the single most visible aspect of the new version of Gmail beta. The other improvements are mainly under the hood; the response is faster when you want to read an email in the current view. The quick response is a result of Gmail pre-fetching the emails showing in the current view.
The changes under the hood could also suggest a much better code base to allow further improvements on Gmail. What I would like to see is the integration of Google Gears with Gmail; this would make life much easier. Come to think of it, Gmail recently got IMAP support as a feature. I have been putting the IMAP support through its paces and it seemed fine to me though I didn’t get it to work with my Google Apps account. I hope that gets activated as time goes on. An integration of Google Gears with Gmail’s IMAP support would be awesome!