Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Google has rolled out a new feature in Gmail that helps users track physical packages.
The feature is meant to automate and eliminate the need for shoppers, after placing an order for a product online, to keep checking their inbox for the confirmation email and getting the tracking number to check the status of a delivery. At holiday season, inboxes are more likely to become filled with these confirmations.
So, in the coming weeks, Gmail will begin showing delivery information in the inbox. If there is a tracking number, then it will display a summary card at the top of emails showing the status of the delivery.
For now, it appears to be a North America-only feature, but Google says package tracking will be available across most major U.S. shipping carriers. The cards will include the estimated arrival date and status, such as "Label created", "Arriving tomorrow" or "Delivered today."
"You can opt in to receive package tracking updates right from your inbox or in Gmail settings. Gmail will then automatically look up order statuses using your tracking numbers and surface them in your inbox. You can opt out at any time through your Gmail settings," Ilya Brown, Google's VP of product for Gmail, notes in a blogpost.
Google notes that if the email doesn't include a tracking number or link, tracking isn't available. Also, some countries and regions don't have shipment tracking options.
Finally, in the "coming months", Gmail will alert users when a package is delayed by showing a "delay label" and will then bring the email to the top of the inbox so users don't miss a package.