Over the last few weeks Google has been busy launching some new applications and gadgets as part of its Google Labs. The Labs is where Google tries out new ideas and applications and everything from Google Maps to Google Docs has gotten its start as a Google Labs project.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying out some of the new Google Labs projects and have found some that may be new favorites and some that I could probably live without.
Several new Google Labs projects have been added to Gmail and have even been added directly to the Gmail interface. Users now see a test-tube icon in the upper right hand corner of Gmail and clicking on this brings them to a screen showing all of the Google Labs apps that they can enable within Gmail.
Some of these didn’t hold much interest, including a snakey game (there are plenty of better online games out there) and pictures in chat.
However, others proved to be more useful. With Google Labs, users can have more control over their e-mail signatures in Gmail and there is more customization for date formats. Also it is now possible to enable mouse gestures to control the interface in Gmail.
One of my favorite Labs features was the Email Addict feature. This adds a “Take a break” link inside Gmail which, if you click it, locks you out of Gmail for fifteen minutes. I thought this was a great idea and wish it was stronger, since you can easily get around this by opening another browser window.
Another new Labs project is Google Trends for Web sites. Using this feature, users can view and compare the performance of Web sites over time. This proved to be a useful feature for checking on how Google views the performance of both your own and competing company Web sites. However, one key weakness is that this feature cannot track Google’s own sites.
To find and try out some of the Google Labs projects go to www.google.com/labs/.