I’m currently on vacation in Florida. Well okay, “vacation” is a relative term. For me, it means mixing one hour of family stuff into a day’s work. And because I’m still working, I don’t want to set up a default vacation message, but would still like for people to know that I’m not on my usual schedule back in San Francisco. Google has just launched a feature that makes this possible in Gmail Labs.
The new feature allows you to append your location to your signature. So for example, I can now get it to show “Sent from: West Palm Beach Fl United States” under all the emails I’m sending from here. This is great — it takes what I like about sending email from my iPhone (that “Sent from my iPhone” stamp that lets people know why I’m being so brief) and transfers it to my computer. Of course I could have faked anything I wanted in my signature, a trend that Digg founder Kevin Rose spread on Twitter recently, but I’d prefer to add something interesting to let people know I’m on the road.
Unfortunately, the feature pinpoints your location by checking the public IP address of the computer you’re using. So, it’s fair to say, “This feature doesn’t work.” Case in point, it says that I’m in Atlanta, Ga. right now. Not only is this wrong, it’s several hundred miles off. If you have Gears installed, Gmail will tap it for much more accurate location data. Sadly, I don’t have that at my disposal this trip.
Obviously, you may not want everyone to know where you’re at at all times, and you can easily just delete your location from your signature in those cases.
Update: As commenter Rod Begbie points out, it’s kind of odd that Google wouldn’t tie this in directly with its new Latitude location-based service. After all, the point of that is to let people know your location.