Gmail Labs goes global

This post comes to you from our team in Switzerland, a small country with no fewer than four official languages and many more spoken by people living here. The majority of Gmail users are outside the U.S., so it's no surprise that since we launched Gmail Labs last year, people around the world have been asking for these experimental features in their local languages. As of today, we're making Gmail Labs available internationally.

You may wonder, since most Gmail features are available in almost every supported language immediately at launch, why Labs hasn't been. The truth is that Labs itself is a bit of an experiment -- it came out of people's 20% time, and we weren't sure if it would really work. Specifically, we thought there was a chance that everything would just break. Every time a Gmail user signs in we create a custom version of JavaScript for them based on the Labs features they have enabled. Since we have 43 Labs right now, there are 243 (~8 trillion) possible versions of the Gmail JavaScript that a user could get. If you account for the 49 languages where Labs are now available, it gets even bigger -- 49 x 243 (~430 trillion) versions. It would obviously be a challenge to actually test all of these versions. But we put a lot of effort into building an architecture that supports this type of modularity, and fortunately, it seems to be working pretty well so far. So we figured, why not, what's another another 422 trillion permutations?

If your language is set to, say, Italian, you'll see a new page in Settings (or Impostazioni) called Labs. There, you'll find a list of experimental features you can choose to turn on -- everything from the useful (like offline access), to the arcane (like filter import/export), to the slightly ridiculous (like mail goggles). Most of these are translated to work in all of Gmail's supported languages except Hebrew, Arabic, and Urdu. Keep in mind that all Labs features are early experiments -- no design reviews, no product analysis, and not that much testing -- so they may occasionally break. If you run into problems with your account after turning them on, try this escape hatch.