Gmail Tapping Users for the Next Great Features
It’s significant that the most dominant search company is always on the lookout for ways to make the most of its users. Gmail recently announced Gmail labs, a feature that lets users test from among 13 new features on the email service.
The list of the 13 new features:
- Quick Links – A simple box of links that you can customize.
- Superstars – Additional star icons that you can use.
- Pictures in chat – You can see your friends’ profile pictures when you are chatting with them.
- Fixed width font – View messages with a fixed width font.
- Custom keyboard shortcuts – Customize Gmail shortcuts so they are easier to remember for you.
- Mouse gestures – Handy app that adds mouse gestures to Gmail. (this one is probably the best of the whole list)
- Signature tweaks – Moves the signature to before the quoted text.
- Random signature – Generates a random signature.
- Custom date formats – Probably also one of the more useful labs extensions.
- Muzzle – Hides your friends’ status message in the chat box.
- Old Snakey – Play the classic “snake” game in Gmail.
- Email Addict – Forces you to take a 15 minute break from Gmail.
- Hide Unread Counts – Removes the number of unread messages for “inbox”, “labels” etc.
Also to be noted is that if any of these features locks you out from your account, you need to sign in via http://mail.google.com/mail/?labs=0 (Gmail labs gets disabled). We have had a debate of sorts here at Dailybits on how different Gmail really is compared to other webmail services ( In this case Windows Live). On this count you have to admit that tapping the user base could result in faster roll out of new services. After all its logical to let users decide on what features they would really want to have in their accounts.
Tapping the power of the crowd
Involving the community is making its way into distinct areas now. From voting on content to testing of features, there are many social sites now experimenting with letting users vote on the ads that are displayed along side their profiles. These look like the beginnings of a change in the way traditional software was developed with clear demarcations between end users and developers. With the emergence of platforms and the abundance of APIs, the trend seems to be progressing towards software where the roles of the developers and the users are very similar.
As for the Gmail features, which one of them do you adore?