Google is making it possible for developers to bring their services into Gmail using new integrations called Add-ons.
It’s built so that developers can write one set of code in Google’s Apps Script language and have their integration run in Gmail on the web, as well as inside Google’s Android and iOS apps for the service. For example, a QuickBooks add-on would let users easily send invoices to people who they’re emailing.
Google already offers Add-ons for its Docs word processing and Sheets spreadsheet software.
This sort of system could be useful for users because it helps them get work done without leaving Gmail. It also helps draw users into Google’s official email app, rather than use one of the many other clients that can access the service, including Microsoft Outlook.
It’s similar to what Microsoft has created for its Office 365 Add-Ins system, which allows developers to add third-party functionality to Outlook, Word, and other apps. Outlook for iOS just received support for running add-ins with an update last month.
There is no shortage of companies extending Gmail at the moment, but that usually comes in the form of a browser extension. These tools are different because they don't require such extensions, which may be more appealing to security-conscious administrators.
Google announced Thursday it has already partnered on Add-ons with QuickBooks, ProsperWorks, and Salesforce. The company plans to open up early developer access soon. Those interested in signing up for the Add-on program can do so here.