Yesterday Google announced a new labs feature in Gmail called Undo Send. Tech blogosphere was going gaga about it but I felt
that this new feature tells me that all the mails sent using gmail takes atleast
5 seconds to go out of their system. I just didn’t like it.
I do agree that that IMs and Microblogging services do a better job of
instant communications and email is old fashioned. However, email is still part
of the workflow for many people and a forced delay of 5 seconds, however small
it may be, is not good. When I send a mail out, I expect it to be sent out
immediately from my mail provider. It may take time for the packets to reach the
destination and the other mail provider may take a longer time to process the
mail, running it through their spam and virus filters. But, I want my mail
provider to send out the mail immediately without any delay on their side. A
forced delay is not the correct way to implement a feature.
While I was thinking about this, I came across a post by Zoho folks (Disclaimer: Zoho is the sponsor of this
blog but this is my personal opinion. BTW, my personal, professional and company
emails are on Google servers. So there is no hidden agenda here) where they
explain how they have implemented a similar feature. They are giving the option
of delay to the user rather than forcing it upon them. I feel that it is the
right way to implement a feature. Empowering the users so that they can decide
how they want to have it.
Undo Send is what Outlook has offered for ages: you can actually recall a
message that had already been sent, provided the recipient has not opened
it yet, and you’re both on Exchange. What Gmail offers now is a momentary delay
of 5 seconds, during which you may just realize you’re emailing the wrong Smith
or Brown, and hit the panic Undo button. It’s not really undo, since the message
was never sent in the first place – Gmail was holding it for 5 seconds, if you
had enabled this option.
Well, that was Microsoft’s way of adding a feature by intruding into the
personal space of users (in this case, their Inbox in Exchange). Google and
Zoho’s features are not intrusive in that sense but the implementation by
Google, as Zoli has also mentioned in his post, is not done well. I prefer
Zoho’s approach over Google in this one.
PS: My conclusion above about the forced delay is based on some unscientific tests I ran on domains hosted on Google servers. I would like to add a disclaimer that Google may not be forcing the delay on all users but it is just based on my trials.