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Simple Things That Are Awesome

By Phil Charron on May 5, 2010

Sometimes you stumble on things that are simple and awesome. This Gmail feature is far from perfect, but I stumbled over it the other day. I was sending an email and referred to the attachments in the email, but forgot to attach anything. When I hit “send” I saw this:

Gmail's "Did you mean to attach a file?" feature

Gmail

I played with the feature a bit and there are some holes in it… for instance, if I write, “In the attached files…” and don’t attach anything, I don’t get the same warning.

Perhaps it is looking for generic phrases that indicate attachments or perhaps they’re looking at my linguistic tendencies around attachments. Regardless, I’m sure the feature will improve over time. The main point is the intent is there. We know Gmail is looking at the content of your emails to place ads (hooray). While they’re there, they may as well do some good (non-sarcastic hooray).

Google Labs has a slew of lab features you can add to Gmail, including two of my favorites, “Don’t forget Bob” and “Got the right Bob?”. Pretty much any feature that involves Bob has to be good – everybody likes Bob.

We have been spending some time with our clients talking about the Google Labs model. Google didn’t invent the idea of fostering small R&D projects from within. One of the best examples of how lab projects can benefit a company is the story of 3M and Post-It Notes. Few people realize Gmail itself was a lab project as well. Fostering innovation from within and freeing it from the typical bureacracy of your organization can result in simple, awesome things.

Then, once you’ve built it, you can name it Bob.