Thursday, June 12, 2008

[itsdifferent] Gmail Rolls Out 13 New Features

Gmail Rolls Out 13 New Features

- As part of the Gmail Labs platform

Gmail rocks and all of you knew it already, but even so, users always want to see more features from Google's mail service. Regardless if we're talking about folders or a different UI, people have always requested new functions. Because of that, Google has recently rolled out Gmail Labs, a special testing platform which incorporates test versions of the upcoming Gmail features which could be used by all users of the mail service.

"People often ask how we decide what to build next. It's usually a mix of factors, like how many users are asking for it (think delete button, vacation responder, and IMAP, among others), how useful we think it will be (think chat, conversation view, etc.) or how much fun it will be to work on (this is actually really important). We have all sorts of debates about each option, we weigh the pros and cons, and then some of the time we probably make the wrong decision," Keith Coleman, Product Manager, mentioned the reasons for implementing the new platform.

In other words, Gmail Labs is a testing platform designed by Google based on your feedback. If you and lots of other users request the same feature, Google designs it and integrates into Gmail Labs, in order to see what other people think about it. In case positive feedback is received, Google may bring the functionality in final version and upgrade it from Gmail Labs.

"The idea behind Labs is that any engineer can go to lunch, come up with a cool idea, code it up, and ship it as a Labs feature," the Google official explains. "Labs is now out to all English users (US and UK), and administrators using Google Apps can choose to enable Labs by checking the `Turn on new features' box in Domain Settings."

At this point, no less than 13 functions are available under the Gmail Lab link included in all Gmail accounts. All you need to do is to navigate to Settings and click on the last tab called Labs. Here you can find all the available experimental features. For instance, you can now choose new chat emoticons, mouse gestures for Gmail, custom keyboard shortcuts, custom date formats and many others. Obviously, the main goal of this testing platform is actually to get feedback, so feel free to send your opinion about the new features to Google.

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