Google Gmail Labs Activates 49 Languages
Google's Gmail Labs is now available in 49 languages, the company announced. Most Gmail features already supported dozens of languages. Five years after launching its e-mail service, Google is busily positioning Gmail to compete more fully against Microsoft, Yahoo and other major e-mail providers.Google Gmail Labs, the company's testing ground for experimental features for its cloud-based e-mail service, is available in 49 languages as of March 30. Launched in June 2008, Labs (which, like the rest of Gmail, seems to be perpetually in beta) allows users to enable everything from YouTube previews in e-mail to custom label colors to Mail Googles, which prevents e-mails from being sent until the user solves a series of math questions designed to stump the particularly inebriated. These sometimes-breakable, often-quirky features had previously been available only in English.
"You may wonder, since most Gmail features are available in almost every supported language immediately at launch, why Labs hasn't been," Pal Takacsi, engineering manager for Google, posited on an official corporate blog. "The truth is that Labs itself is a bit of an experiment-it came out of people's [20 percent time], and we weren't sure if it would really work. Specifically, we thought there was a chance that everything would just break."
In January 2009, Google offered offline access for Gmail, putting the application in a more direct competitive position against Microsoft, Yahoo Zimbra and other companies providing offline access for their signature e-mail product. It later enabled offline access to Google Calendar. On March 20, Google announced that it had integrated an "unsend" feature into Gmail, allowing users 5 seconds to repeal a message about which they have second thoughts; Microsoft Outlook, with its "Recall" button, and AOL e-mail, with its own "unsend" feature, already replicated that service.