<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Google-Labs.jpg” />Google recently announced that it is putting the padlock on Google Labs, the experimental section from where many groundbreaking ideas (yup, even Gmail and Google Reader) spewed forth. The recent announcement did not shed light on the specific closure date or the fate of each product that’s still gestating there. So, until the last proverbial nail is hit on the coffin, you can still traipse around signs that say – Shh! Men at work.
An update to the announcement did say that Google did not have any plans to change in-product experimentation channels. So, in all likelihood the product specific experimental labs will survive.
But which are the individual Google product labs that sometimes lie obscured by the parent Google Labs? Let’s don our white coats and take a peek inside Google.
Gmail Labs is one that most of us are familiar with. Simply because of the cool extras it lets us enable to make our emailing a bit smoother. You can enable Gmail Lab features by clicking on the ‘wrench’ icon and going to the tab marked as Labs. There are quite a few productivity related features like Sender Time Zone, Undo Send, and SmartLabels. Popular features get pushed up gradually as recently Superstars, Nested Labels and Advanced IMAP Controls made it to the list of default features.
If you believe in your to-dos’ and tasks, then a regular look at the various aids that are available could do a world of good. Even though they are experimental, they remain more than useful. My favorites – Smart Rescheduler, Year view, and Jump to date.
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It seems that this is the lab that gets the most eyeballs. For e.g. Google Instant got its share of bytes. The Search Experiments lab invites you to join an experiment and contribute your user experience. While you are experimenting, you can try out different ways to search. Here’s a previous post you can read on Google Instant: How To Permanently Disable Google Instant & Google Suggest
The Distance Measurement tool looks ready to join the big league. That is, if you go by the everyday usefulness of the feature. Other features have debuted here like Aerial Imagery and the Where in the World game. Seven experimental features remain. We had seen four in our previous 4 Really Cool Google Maps Labs Features. Let’s see which ones make the cut.
YouTube’s experimental lab is an ‘ideas incubator’. The cool thing is that straightaway, you can take the features and improve the way you watch YouTube videos. The Cosmic Panda is the latest which brings about changes in the interface. It is a radical experiment which changes the entire look of the video site and bumps up the style quotient while improving user navigation.
Google Code Labs and Toolbar Labs are the other two lab sections for experimental features. But these five occupy most of our attention. Google Code Labs would need a post of its own as it includes products like Google Cloud Print and Google Web Store among many other biggies.
Which is your favorite feature from Google Labs? Will you miss it once it’s shut down? These five (or seven) should help to cover the respective Google products.