Gmail users gained some semi-magic powers earlier this week. No, really. With the addition of personalized auto-complete to Gmail's search box, searching requires far less typing and far less thinking back to how emails from months or years ago were worded. Start typing "United," and depending on emails you've received, you'll see suggestions for "United Air flight confirmation," "United Parcel Service delivery confirmation," and so on. It's like having a secretary with perfect memory.
But that auto-completing search is only for Gmail users. Says Google: "While initially improved autocomplete will not be available for Google Apps customers, we plan to bring this feature to Apps domains in the future." In the meantime, what are we supposed to search for, keywords and terms, like peasants? (Ahem).
Actually, there are third-party add-ons that have been providing that kind of extended memory service to Google Apps customers. Here's a brief overview of what's available.
Xobni aims to provide complete contact awareness when you're doing anything inside your inbox: composing an email, reading, searching, whatever. A right sidebar provides all of the context you have on the contact including the last email you traded, their profile links from LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and a profile image to differentiate Jim Smith, the guy on your street, from Jim Smith, the sales rep for Rackspace.
CloudMagic actually works for Gmail, Docs, and your cross-app Contacts, but it's really going to impress you with its ability to pull up emails at a speed that sometimes seems faster than your solid-state hard drive. See how it works in CloudMagic's demonstration video pitch.
CloudMagic stores your Google data on its own servers, which have just that one purpose - it frees up Gmail to do its own thing, and exists only to make your searching more convenient. It's primarily a browser plug-in for Gmail and Google Apps Mail, but it also offers iPhone and Android apps that provide the same kind of easy-pull data on your small screen.
Greplin's aim is similar to CloudMagic, but it pulls in far more than just Gmail/Apps to sort through for you. It's also grabbing projects from Basecamp, appointments from your calendar, contacts from Twitter and other social networks, SalesForce data, and, well, many more.
What's more, they made a conscious effort to support Apps products in their free product, after hearing the demand of customers. Like CloudMagic, Greplin offers mobile apps in tandem with their web services, and the aim is speed. Learn more about how Greplin would work with your account at their FAQ.
Do you use a service that provides you with better and faster search than Google itself provides? What service is it?
Kevin Purdy is a freelance writer, a former editor at Lifehacker.com, and the author of The Complete Android Guide.