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March 9, 2009

Will Gmail Come Out of Beta?

Five years after its release, Gmail is still a beta application. Gmail continues to add significant features, but most of the interesting ideas are now in Gmail Labs: tasks, offline Gmail, sending SMS or adding iGoogle gadgets.

It makes sense to add experimental features in the Labs section and remove the "beta" label from Gmail's logo. Felipe Zamorano, a reader of this blog, noticed that the Gmail logos created for some of the themes have two versions: one that includes "beta" and another one without "beta".

Google has recently launched a Labs section for APIs and started to add deprecation policies for the APIs that graduated from Labs. "For these graduates, we're increasing our commitment with published deprecation policies and other critical support services. The Visualization API terms, Contacts Data API terms, and Picasa Web Albums Data API terms include good examples of transparent deprecation policies. They state that we'll support each version for at least 3 years from when it's deprecated or a newer version is introduced."

Maybe it's time to show the same commitment for popular applications like Gmail or Google Calendar and drop the "beta" label.

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