By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 4:55 pm
Has it only been thirteen months since Google introduced Gmail Labs? The warehouse of experimental features has become a defining aspect of Gmail’s personality, letting users pick and choose from dozens of features, including some that are utterly essential (like offline access) and some that are just plain weird (such as Mail Goggles, which aims to help you avoid sending drunken e-mail).
Today, Google Calendar is getting its own Labs. So far, it’s only got five features, and they skew towards the practical, not the wacky. You can display a wallpaper image behind your calendar; attach documents to appointments; view a world clock; jump to any date; see your next appointment; and see busy times for your colleagues.
If Google Calendar gets even a quarter of the Labs features that are in Gmail–the latter has nearly fifty at the moment–it’ll be a cool addition to what’s already one of Google’s cooler services. But a plea, in case anyone at Google is reading this: Please make Google Calendar’s Labs less of an undifferentiated heap than Gmail’s version. (These list of Gmail features you can turn on sits on one endless page, and is in no discernible order.)
Oh, and one piece of related news: Gmail’s Tasks manager, which is so useful that I forgot it was still technically an experiment, is now a standard Gmail feature. It had already migrated into Calendar.