So, Gmail labs is pretty cool, right? Engineers throw an experiment at us and we get to play until we're either bored with it or wonder where it's been all our lives. The whole concept has been a pretty sweet deal since Google initially released it in June of 2008.

But Google giveth, and taketh away. We saw some particularly gruesome casualties earlier this year when Jaiku, Google Video and Google Notebook were kicked to the curb. Now Labs has started their own downsizing, beginning by sending right-side labels to the chopping block. Understandably, loads of you are still mourning the loss. Our advice? Prepare for even more heartache; word on G-Lab Street is another round of slashing is about to take place.

Beta Shmeta

Gmail is obviously shedding a bunch of unnecessary weight, right along with the "beta" title. For some of you, it's good to see Gmail leaving the beta protection program. It means progress. For others, 5 whole years of the same routine was long enough to convince you things would always be that way, and you got comfortable. PROTIP: Never get comfortable.

In addition to right-side labels (R.I.P.) the Official Gmail Blog hints that more cuts are soon to come. No one knows exactly which labs are off to lab heaven except for team G of course, but that doesn't mean we can't dream.


We dug around the blogosphere and discovered the following 5 labs kind of suck at striking most people's fancy:

Extra Emoji: A truckload of extra emoticons (hundreds) via the Labs team in Japan. Suddenly, when flipped on, expressing yourself can involve so much more than pigs, hearts and poo.

Mail Goggles: This feature is basically to keep users from sending messages during unstable *cough* drunk *cough* times. When turned on, it will check that you're really sure you want to send your e-mail by making you solve a few math problems after you click send.

Inbox Preview: A quick way to preview the 10 most recent messages in your inbox while Gmail loads. The Gmail team says, "...imagine that you access Gmail on a super slow connection from a remote place in Ethopia where it might take minutes to completely load your inbox."

Canned Responses: Stock responses for the truly lazy.

E-mail Addict: A pop up reading "Break time!" springs forward while the rest of your inbox fades out--but not completely. During these designated e-mail breaks, you can stll see if you're receiving messages.

Out with the Old, In with the New

As usual, Google is juggling all sorts of things while we're here kicking rocks, waiting to see what's next. Though some trimming is definitely being done, Gmail Labs is still boiling over with brand spankin' new experiments. Among the latest to take the stage is an anti-phishing key for extra protection from the evil spammers. Switch on "Authentication icon for verified senders" and you'll see a key icon next to verified emails that are what Brad Taylor, Gmail Spam Czar, calls "super-trustworthy."

What do you think, is it a winner? Are the 5 labs we listed above tools we can all live without, or has the suggestion of tossing them made you crazy? Let us know and maybe dear ol' uncle Google with hear your prayers and be gentle come cut season.