Google on Wednesday announced the addition of a new Gmail feature called quick actions. These new buttons will be rolling out “over the next few weeks,” so don’t fret if you don’t see them yet.

So, what exactly do quick action buttons let you do? Say you receive an email and all you want to do is RSVP to it. You don’t even want to open it; you just want to let the sender know if you’re going or not, without reading the email and without typing anything.

Quick action buttons let you do just that:

RSVPScreenshot 730x421 Gmail is getting quick action buttons that let you RSVP to events, rate restaurants, view flights, and more

Another example Google offers is flight confirmation emails. When you open a flight confirmation email in Gmail, all the important information about your flight will be displayed right at the top. You can quickly see whether your flight is on time, when your connection is, and so on (sans scrolling).

Also notice the check-in button; that’s the quick action in this case:

Flights Popout 730x318 Gmail is getting quick action buttons that let you RSVP to events, rate restaurants, view flights, and more

As you can see, these buttons appear next to messages in your inbox and let you take action on an email without ever having to read it. Yet this is just the end result, how does one actually send such an email?

Developers can add actions to emails, details for which are available at developers.google.com/gmail/schemas. Essentially, there are currently two types of actions:

  • In-App Actions: These are handled inside Gmail, without sending the user to any other website. Currently these include one-click, reviews, and RSVP.
  • Go-To: These are for more complex interactions, when you need to provide a direct link to the page where the action can be performed. They are rendered in an email as a button in the subject line that redirects the user to the page specified in the action definition.

Google says it plans to add even more useful actions moving forward. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.

Top Image Credit: AFP/Getty Images