Have you ever wanted to be able to do a Google Web search and search your Gmail inbox at the same time? If your answer is yes, Google has something for you. The company announced Wednesday that it is testing a new feature that will do just that, and it wants Gmail users to sign up and give it a try.
If you sign up for the public trial, you'll begin seeing relevant emails from you Gmail account show up alongside search results when using Google search. The trial follows a long line of recent additions Google has made to its Universal Search, all of which are part of an effort to make searching more contextual and that little bit more personal. Recent additions include the new calculator, conversion tools, personal results, and even up-to-date information on the latest from the Olympics.
Senior Vice President of Google Search Amit Singhal introduced the new search-email mashup feature in a post on the company's official blog, describing the experiment as a move to make Google’s search results “truly universal.”
In Singhal’s blog post, he highlights a few examples of how this new search could prove useful. One such example included how you might see emails that contain information on upcoming trips you have planned as you search for flight times. Other examples include checking on Amazon orders and searching your contacts list directly from Google search. In these sorts of scenarios, the integrated inbox search feature makes a lot of sense.
But what’s the flip side of this growing transparency across Google services? Aside from the obvious privacy concerns, this new feature could also have some unintended consequences.
Planning to surprise your better-half with a trip to an exotic destination? That’s fine, until you start doing some vacation research together and that super secret email you wanted locked away from prying eyes pops-up alongside your search results. You could apply this to various scenarios, and with the growing amount of personal information we keep in our inboxes, from finance through to health, this feature certainly won’t be for everyone—especially those with shared family PCs.
If you want to give this search-email hybrid experiment a try you can sign up on Google's site. But take note: If you do decide to give it a try, be sure to bookmark the sign-up page, as this is where you’ll need to head if you want to opt-out should you not want the service.
Let us know if you decide to give it a go in the comments below.
This story, "Google wants to bring your Gmail messages to your search results" was originally published by TechHive.