It’s out with the old and in with the new at Google. The search giant is discontinuing a spate of under-used experimental features available through its Labs program. But not to worry, it’s also introducing several new offerings to soup up its Gmail service.
Datamation’s got the details on the incoming and outgoing products.
Google continues to tinker and update its Gmail e-mail service at a steady clip. Back in 2008 Google launched Gmail Labs, a sort of test launch pad for new features its engineers dreamed up and users had the option of trying. These Gmail features “graduate” to the standard Gmail if they prove worthwhile. One example is Offline Gmail, which gives users access to their e-mail history even if they’re not connected to the Internet, though it’s limited to previous e-mails, and doesn’t retrieve new ones.
Thursday Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) announced that it’s adding six new features to Labs and retiring five that didn’t make the cut. “These decisions were made based mainly on usage, taking feature polish and your feedback into account,” Google software engineer Mark Knichel said in a blog post detailing the changes.
The news comes as Google is making a strong push to broaden Gmail’s appeal, including the recent controversial addition of Google Buzz, which brings social media features to the e-mail system. Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) has made similar moves to integrate social media features to its e-mail service.
Google is dropping Muzzle, Fixed Width Font, Email Addict, Location in Signature and Random Signature. Muzzle was designed to preserve screen real estate by hiding friends’ status messages. Email Addict was an attempt to help compulsive messengers take a break by blocking the e-mail screen for 15 minutes. The Location in Signature feature used the public IP address from whatever computer or mobile device users were sending from to append the location (city, region, country) next to the signature.