I Tried Out Gemini in Gmail and It’s a Total Dud Right Now

In Short
  • Google brings Gemini integration to its workspace apps, including Gmail, but my experience with it was lackluster.
  • The first key feature is Gemini 1.5 Pro access in the side panel to let you access the AI and ask questions about your emails.
  • Other features include email summaries in mobile, contextual smart replies, and Q&A with Gemini that are coming in July.

The theme of this year’s Google I/O was Gemini and all the new tricks the AI model has learned over the past year. The company also brought a myriad of new AI integrations to its core workspace apps and services like Gemini in Gmail. So, what are the new AI features added to Gmail and how well do they work? Let’s take a look.

What are the New Gemini Features in Gmail?

Google announced a bunch of exciting features that will be making their way to Gmail in the coming months. Let’s go over each feature briefly

Gemini 1.5 Pro Side Panel

Google is making it easy for users to access Gemini via a new side panel. This makes it convenient to call up the AI chatbot whenever you need it. Just click on the Gemini icon on the top right side, which is now live for me.

I Tried Out Gemini in Gmail and It’s a Total Dud Right Now

Bringing it up will show you some suggested actions that you can try out or enter your prompt to get results. It will also feature a more powerful Gemini 1.5 Pro, which will allow it to reference a larger data set. So you can ask Gemini to create summaries, get more information regarding your emails, and create replies for them as well.

Gemini Side panel in Gmail
Image Courtesy: Google

This feature is available now through Workspace Labs and Gemini for Workspace Alpha users. It will start rolling out on the desktop version of Gmail for businesses and consumers through Gemini for Workspace add-ons and Google’s AI premium plan.

Email Summaries on Mobile

Google is also bringing email summaries to the Gmail mobile app. It shows a summarize button on top of emails . This feature allows Gemini to scan your email thread and give you a summary. You can try out email summaries starting this month if you’ve signed up for Workspace Labs. Other users will receive the feature next month.

Q&A in Gmail with Gemini

This feature will work similarly to the side panel with Gmail on web. It will let you bring up the AI and show some suggestions like “Summarise”, “Show next step”, or Suggest a reply”. But you can also enter your own prompts to ask more in-depth questions related to your emails. Like contextual replies, this will also be making its way on the web and mobile, starting in July.

Gemini Q and A in Gmail
Image Courtesy: Google

Contextual Smart Replies

You might think that Smart replies are already a thing in Gmail, and there is nothing new about it. But soon, Gemini will be able to write down more relevant responses based on the context of the emails. Currently, they sound pretty generic no matter what the email is about. This feature will be available from July for Workspace Labs users.

My Experience Trying Gemini wthin Gmail

Before the Day 1 keynote even began, I was checking some of my emails and noticed that one of my Gmail accounts had access to the Gemini side panel feature. I tried it out and it was pretty limited in the things that it can do. At the time of writing, it can only offer summaries for emails. You also get suggestions to get more results from the email, but they aren’t that great either.

  • Gemini Responses in Gmail
  • Gemini Suggestions in Gmail
  • Gemini Failed to Answer Questions

I tried asking Gemini to write a response to my own cover letter and it delivered a pretty generic result. Asking any other nuanced question resulted in “Something went wrong. Try again.” that was frustrating to say the least.

This happened multiple times whenever I asked a slightly involved question. It couldn’t even tell my unread email count even though I could see it plain as day in front of me.

So I guess Gemini has a long way to go before it becomes a genuinely useful addition to my Gmail inbox. Hopefully, by July, we will get to see further improvements when the feature starts rolling out to more users. But if you have received the Gemini side panel on Gmail, share your thoughts about it in the comments section.

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