Gmail or Browser?

Lately I’ve noticed that in Gmail’s input fields (i.e., when you’re composing a new email or talking to someone in chat), a right click brings up the option to Paste. Previously, this was impossible. I wrote a brief but astutely titled post about just this subject in August.

So why the sudden change? Did Google finally crumble under the crushing weight of reason, usability, and tradition to put the second half of the “one really just isn’t the same without the other” copy-and-paste combo into their otherwise gleaming interface? Or is it just the browsers? Paste is there in both Firefox 2 and IE7. I wouldn’t hold it past Microsoft to “improve” the interface of someone else’s website. (Yes, I put the word improve in quotes to make a small point — but paste functionality is an improvement.) But Mozilla? Mozilla wouldn’t do that, would they? Well, I guess they did put in that whole immensely useful spell check feature — a feature that shows up in the exact same text fields in which I now have the option to paste using only the mouse (and every other text field I encounter on the Internet).

(This feels like a good time to bring this up: Is Mozilla stepping on Google’s toes with the spell check? Google’s toolbar offered the exact same feature with nearly identical visual cues (which are in turn ripped off from Microsoft Word). Is Mozilla stepping on Google’s toes with the “right click on highlighted text to search for it in a new tab” feature? Again, the browser implements functionality identical to that which the toolbar already offered. I’m five seconds from uninstalling Google Toolbar. The one feature I don’t wish to part with is its AutoFill feature. How long until FireFox offers an identical tool?

And as long as I’m off subject, it’d be great if the built in search box (prominent in both Firefox forever and now IE7, too) opened a new tab automatically. The Google Toolbar gives me a checkbox for that, but I want to get rid of it.)

So it’s possible that the current generation of browsers are correcting deficiencies in Google’s services.  If this is the case, perhaps it will wake Google up to make more advances in its products and, oh, I don’t know — get something out of beta?  And I’m not talking about Desktop, which I uninstalled months ago.

Gmail or Browser?