The month of May might still be a sunny flicker at the end of winter’s long, gloomy tunnel, but it’s already graduation day for six new features from Google’ Gmail labs. On Wednesday night, Google announced that six new features had been plucked from the experimental Labs portion of Google to become standard for everyone, while five will retire for good.
Search Autocomplete, Go To Label, Forgotten Attachment Detector, YouTube Previews, Custom Label Colors, and Vacation Dates will all move out of Labs and into the “real world.”
For users who don’t have the time to scan Labs for useful additions many of the additions will come as surprises. Perhaps one of the most clever and sophisticated features, Forgotten Attachment Detector actually scans outgoing e-mail messages for phrases that suggest there should be an attachment, and will ask if you really want to send without an attachment when you go to send it. YouTube previews will display YouTube links as embedded, playable thumbnails, and custom label colors literally lets you pick the background and text color for a label from a color picker. Vacation dates allows you to enter days you’ll be away in advance, then automatically turns out an autoresponse when you’re away, so you don’t forget it like your toothbrush in that last-minute rush. Search autocomplete replicates the autocomplete function of a normal Google search by filling in terms that might help you, while Go To Label, not surprisingly, acts as a shortcut to cut to one of your labels.
Which features didn’t make the cut? Muzzle, Fixed Width Font, Email Addict, Location in Signature, and Random Signature, which did everything from blocking friends’ status messages to enforcing a 15-minute “break time” to peel you away from Gmail. Google claims it made the decision based on usage, feature polish and feedback, and will dice out these seldom-used Labs features in the coming days.