Google continues to pump shopping features to its many platforms for the holiday season; this time Gmail gets a new package tracker.
Black Friday falls on November 25 this year and we predict that retailers will offer high discounts or have early sales as a way to attract customers. That means there are a lot of packages in the mail and your email account is filled to the brim with shipping confirmations. With the shipping tracker (opens in new tab)Gmail displays a simple indicator to provide important delivery information straight to your inbox.
As Google explains, orders with a tracking number will show green text in the inbox list view indicating when the package will arrive. When you open that email, a summary card is displayed at the top that tells you if the package label was made, if it’s on the way, and if it’s been delivered. You do not need to copy and paste the tracking information to another website to view basic order information.
If you want more information, the overview map comes with two hyperlinks that you can tap. One takes you to the order detail page and the other to a timeline showing the whereabouts of your package.
Google states that the Gmail parcel tracker will first launch to mobile platforms in the coming weeks before moving to the desktop in a few months. The feature will track packages coming through the United States Postal Service, UPS and FedEx, according to a company representative. You can opt out of the tracking updates by going to the Gmail settings and turning them off there. There are plans to expand the feature by adding a delay label to let you know if the package is running late. As with the desktop tracker, the delay label will be launched in the coming months.
However, there can be issues with packages from Amazon. A Google representative told The Verge (opens in new tab) that Amazon’s unique “email format” does not allow Gmail to display tracking information from those orders. They go on to say that the feature will not work “if a tracking number is not included in the merchant’s email for orders.” We were told that Google is considering expanding to other carriers in the future, which could mean Amazon support, but nothing is set in stone at this point.
The parcel tracker sounds like a very useful tool to have, but we are concerned about privacy protection. According to Google, the tracker works by letting Gmail scan tracking numbers in your inbox to display the status of the package. The same rep revealed that the tracker does not contain any new protections aside from what Gmail already has (opens in new tab). If you’re concerned about that, we recommend that you upgrade your device’s security with a security suite.
Be sure to check out our report from earlier this week on updating Google’s search engine to include new ‘Special Offer’ tags on product thumbnails and new pricing insights.