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Google Declares “Morse Code Is Perfect” with New Gmail Tap Mail Program

04/01/2012

On April 1, Google announced that it has unveiled a new way to use its popular Gmail e-mail system. Called Gmail Tap, it uses dots and dashes to form letters, a system of communicating that should be very familiar to radio amateurs. “Morse code is perfect,” said Gmail Tap Engineer Mitch Fedenko. “It’s just a dot and a dash. What’s simpler than that?”

According to Google, Gmail Tap will let you tap without looking at your screen, replace the 26-key keyboard with two keys and double productivity by typing two e-mails at once.

“Technology is everywhere today,” explained David Brook, Google Vice President for Communication Services in a video announcing Gmail Tap, “and everyone has a smart phone. Think about the size of [a smart phone]. It’s only two inches, two-and-a-half inches, and we’re trying to cram an entire 26-key keyboard into that space. It’s time to think about ‘How can we do this better?’ using the technology that we have today. And that’s where Gmail Tap comes in.”

Gmail Tap replaces the default keyboard in the Gmail application with one that only has two buttons: One for a dot and one for a dash. Brook said that every single letter in the alphabet can be spelled out by using just these two characters.

The QWERTY keyboard -- invented in 1874 -- is still used today, largely unchanged. “In Morse code, every letter of the alphabet is represented by a simple pattern of dots and dashes, and once you know them, you can type without even looking at your screen,” Brook said. “This makes it ideal for situations where you need to discreetly send e-mails, such as when you’re on a date or in a meeting with your boss.” [Editor’s note: If your boss knows Morse code, this option might not work for you.]

When Google Software Engineer Reed Morse came to Brook with the idea of bringing Morse code back, Brook said he got “really excited.” Morse claims that Samuel F.B. Morse -- the creator of Morse code -- was his “great-grandfather’s grandfather’s brother.” Morse is also the Lead Engineer for Gmail Tap.

Benefits of Gmail Tap include a split-screen function, enabling you to send two messages at once, to two completely different recipients. “Gmail Tap multitasking, it’s an improvement over speech,” Brook said. “You can say two things with your fingers that your mouth can only say one of. People are going to be twice as productive, and people are going to be able to write e-mails anytime they want.” A planned “ship-to-shore mode” will “activate your phone’s flash to communicate with other power users across an ocean (of people).” Also planned for the future is the Double-Black Diamond mode that will “add a third, fourth and more keyboards for writing up to eight messages at once.”

Gmail Tap Product Lead Todd Smith said that “you can tap it in the morning, you can tap it at night, you can tap it in the bathroom. It [takes] a dot and a dash to have a conversation with the entire world. It’s great!”

Editor’s note, part deux: The ARRL reminds everyone to keep in mind the date of Gmail Tap’s release.



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