Before I get into this too far, let’s start with the usual disclaimer. Yes, Google is rolling out a new feature to Gmail users. No, you might not have it yet — in which case, you’ll have to wait just like always.
Now, on to the good stuff!
Google has apparently been hard at work teaching an old dog (the Gmail spam filter) some new tricks. Well, one new trick: learning how to automatically prioritize incoming messages. In keeping with the processed meat metaphors, the new feature separates “bologna” from your new messages — mail which isn’t quite junk but doesn’t require your immediate attention — in addition to spam.
Many of you have probably been doing this manually for quite some time using Gmail’s filters and stars, which I use to pull out less urgent messages like comment notifications as well as keeping family correspondence separate from my work-related mail. The advantage with Priority Inbox is that Gmail does it all for you, and the more you use it the better it gets at filtering.
Yes, within weeks of activating the new feature Gmail will be sorting your mail mystery meat into neat stacks: important and unread messages first, starred items next, and bologna at the bottom. You’ll also be able to click a plus or minus flag to let Gmail know whether a thread or message is or isn’t important.
Priority Inbox is rolling out to Google Apps customers as well, so your enterprise users should be able to utilize its organizational wizardry by the end of the week as well. More details are available at the Gmail blog, for those of you who are interested.