It looks like one of Gmail’s cooler experiments has paid off.
In a blog post today, Google announced that it’s promoting two features, dubbed “Don’t forget Bob” and “Got the wrong Bob?”, out of its experimental Google Labs area (where users have to opt-in to add features). So if you’re a Gmail user, don’t be surprised when the webmail application starts suggesting who you should be sending your messages to.
Both features are based on similar technology and use Gmail’s knowledge about your email patterns. When you send a message to multiple recipients, Gmail might recognize that it’s a group of people who you normally email together, and if it notices that you left one person off, so it will suggest adding them. (That’s the “Don’t forget Bob” part.) Or it could notice that you included someone with a similar name or address who isn’t normally part of the group, and suggest an alternative. (That’s “Got the wrong Bob?”)
I haven’t tried either feature in a long time (I already use too many Gmail Labs features) but Google says, “We’ve received quite a bit of positive feedback from people who avoided some embarrassing situations thanks to these features.” So that’s another reason for Gmail users to feel smug: Fewer “Oops, wrong Anthony!” situations. On the other hand, many of my most embarrassing email misfires have come when I was only emailing one person, and it sounds like Gmail can’t help there.
VB's research team is studying web-personalization... Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.