The holiday season is just around the corner, this is the time when people order gifts for loved ones, or nab some good deals for themselves. And Google wants to make it easier for you to keep an eye on things by adding package tracking updates to your Gmail inbox.
Gmail to display package tracking updates in your inbox
Gmail’s package tracking feature will pull the tracking numbers from your mails. It will use the data to look up the order statuses automatically. When it finds a status has been updated by the shipping service, Gmail then places a status below the mail in your inbox. This will help you know indicate the current status. Here are some examples for the status messages that you may see in Gmail: Label Created, Arriving tomorrow, Delivered.
Users will be able to view more details about a package’s status by opening the corresponding mail, where you will find a summary card with the tracking information. It’s a lot faster than having to visit the website where you ordered the product from, navigating to the orders page, get the tracking number and paste the details on the shipping company’s website. Imagine doing this a few times a day, until you actually get the package delivered to your door. That can be a little annoying.
This isn’t a particularly new feature per se, the Google Now (Assistant) app used to display similar information about shipment statuses in a separate card. Still, the new feature could be a good addition for users, as it helps you stay up-to-date with the shipping status with minimal effort.
Gmail’s package tracking will not be enabled by default, i.e., it will be an opt-in feature. The app will notify you when the feature is available for your account, you may also toggle it from the settings. That can be useful if you ever decide to opt out of the feature.
But, is this a privacy nightmare? It depends. If you’re worried about your privacy, you shouldn’t be using Google in the first place. On the other hand, if you’re using Gmail as your primary email service, it likely already has your name, phone number, and other information. Think about it, if you’re using your Gmail account to make your online purchases on Amazon, eBay, etc., it knows where you are shopping from, what you bought, your address, and probably your credit card statements too. If Google’s systems can read your mails for advertising purposes, I don’t think there’s anything new for it to learn about you by tracking a shipment. The only difference is that by opting-in, you’re actually consenting to let Gmail look through your mails to find the tracking number.
Though the screenshots show the feature being used in the Gmail mobile app, I think we can expect package tracking in the web version too.
Gmail’s package tracking is not available just yet. It will be rolled out in the coming months to users. According to the announcement on Google’s blog, the feature will be available in the U.S., and will support major shipping carriers. That probably means it won’t work with companies like Amazon, who use their own shipping service.
Will you use Gmail’s package tracker?