Gmail Labs: Users as guinea pigs

Gmail Labs: Users as guinea pigs

Summary: Google has created Gmail Labs and invited its users to test out new features. In other words, you're a guinea pig of sorts.

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Google has created Gmail Labs and invited its users to test out new features. In other words, you're a guinea pig of sorts.

The official word is that Google wants a way to screen the best ideas to add features and get Gmail out of beta--someday. According to Gmail product manager Keith Coleman:

Gmail Labs is a way for us to take lots of the ideas we wouldn't normally pick and let you all (who use Gmail) decide whether they're good or not. When you sign in, you'll see a new page in Settings called Labs. It has a list of experimental new features, and you can enable or disable each one. Some of the popular ones will become core parts of the product, and we'll eventually retire the ones that don't get much use. We've put feedback links in there, too, so you can discuss a feature with other users and the engineer(s) who wrote it.

Pretty neat eh? These features are obviously designed to make Gmail more than just an email system. You don't have to play along, but you probably will.

  • Do I really need "Old Snakey," essentially an version of Tetris from way back when? Probably not. Of course, I enabled it.
  • Pictures in chat may be a nice feature. Enabled that too.
  • And then there are things like fixed width fonts, keyboard shortcuts and rating systems that may be handy.

gmail5.pngThe big picture seems to be this: If these features are any indication Google may take Gmail into a more social directions. As these experiments roll out don't be surprised if you find a few that are designed to keep you in Gmail a bit longer.

Topics: Browser, Cloud, Collaboration, Google

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5 comments
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  • Gmail...Forever Beta

    Hey, that's the Google way.

    Leave it in beta forever and then if something goes wrong, blame it on the fact it is only beta software.
    rkuhn0401729
  • Nibbles, not Tetris

    "Old Snakey" refers to Nibbles, not Tetris.
    php_developer
  • GMail is now bloated.

    With gmail's new 'loading bar', and now this, I'm just waiting for the 'gmail applications' and the endless stream of 'GVites' and other spam to roll in.

    Gmail has jumped the shark.
    epic9x
  • RE: Gmail Labs: Users as guinea pigs

    Perhaps they don't make enough money on advertisement via Gmail.
    Symbioxys
  • 'Gmail Labs: Users as alpha/beta testers'

    is perhaps a more accurate way to phrase it. For my money, it's a good idea, both for [b]Google[/b] and for us users for the latter to have a greater input in the development of [b]Gmail[/b] features. Can't wait for this ?Settings? option to roll its way out to me here on the Swedish periphery !...

    Henri

    PS : Despite a fairly lengthy participation on the Google user fora, I've never seen [b]Google[/b] representatives use ?it's a beta? as an excuse for faulty software. Perhaps [b]rkuhn040172[/b] could provide some evidence for his (?) claim ? To my mind, the ?beta? denomination serves rather as a [i]caveat[/i] to users that the product in question is not (yet) up to production standards....
    mhenriday