Gmail Labs is a way for Google to take lots of the ideas that come from users or the Gmail engineers that wouldn’t normally make it as far as the users and let the people who actually use Gmail on a day to day basis decide whether they’re good enough to stay or be sent to the scrap heap.
When users log into their Gmail accounts they’ll see a new setting titled “Labs”, which features a list of new tools that the team are currently experimenting with. You can enable or disable any of these features and take them for a test drive to see what they can do.
The end result of this endeavour it that some of the more popular new tools will eventually be made permanent and the ones that proved to be not so popular will be trashed.
As always, it wouldn’t be any fun if you didn’t get to give some of that oh so informative “feedback” to Google so the Labs section also provides you with some handy feedback links, where you can have a bit of a moan and groan about some of the less useful tools and sing the praises of the ones you think should become a standard.
Product manager Keith Coleman warned users that they should expect the tools to break every now and again because from the sounds of things, Labs is going to be a pretty free and easy operation. In the blog, Coleman said that an engineer might go to lunch, come up with an idea, code it and upload it without it having had any design reviews or product analysis, and “to be honest, not that much testing”. Although, users shouldn’t fret because there is an “escape hatch” where you can disable the offending tool.
In the words of Coleman this sounds like “very loosely-directed chaos” but hey, you never know, it could be very successful and really fun. Besides they do have a version of that really old school game, Snake called Old Snakey. Let us know what you think of the idea.