Tonight at 6pm PST all users of Google’s e-mail program, Gmail, will notice a tab on the site to access a new part of the service called “Gmail Labs.” Included in Gmail Labs will be 13 experimental features meant to improve and evolve the experience for users.
Gmail Labs will be a proving ground of sorts for new Gmail ideas. Previously such testing had been done internally, but just as Google does with other applications such as Blogger In Draft, they are opening up this still-in-progress features to the public. The name is of course derived from Google Labs, where the search giant tests out many new products before officially launching them.
Some of these new features include: quick links, superstars, pictures in chat, fixed width font, custom keyboard shortcuts and mouse gestures, according to TechCrunch which was at the event held at the Googleplex today in Mountain View, Calif.
Another one that I’m particularly intrigued by is the “Email Addict” feature which locks you out of Gmail for 15 minutes and forces you to take a break. Genius. (You will, of course, be able to refresh out of it.)
Not to be a poor sport, but come on Gmail, I proposed the Gmail “superstar” feature via Twitter back on March 4th. You take my idea and don’t even invite me to the event? Well then I hope you never leave beta!
We’ll update when we know more.
update: Here is the full list of the 13 features rolling out tonight:
- Quick Links
- Signature tweaks
- Pictures in Gchat
- Hide unread count
- Custom keyboard shortcuts
- Mouse gestures
- Random signatures
- Custom date format
- Snake game
- Email addict
- Fixed-width font
update 2: Though my main Gmail account doesn’t have Labs yet enabled (as of 8:30 PM PST), a lesser-used account I have does have the features.
Some of these features will be very useful to me, particularly “Quick Links” and “Superstars” which will help with organization. Unfortunately the difference between the various stars are only visual, you cannot sort by what type of star you use.
“Email Addict” (shown below) is a great idea for those of us who have trouble stepping away from the computer sometimes.