Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Google Custom Time

Google Custom Time In keeping with previous 'releases' by Google on 1st April each year, the internet monolith have this time rolled out a new feature to Gmail: Custom Time. This handy function allows users to send email so that it appears to have been sent hours, days, months or even years earlier than when the user actually clicked 'send'.

Here's how Google explain how to use it: "Just click "Set custom time" from the Compose view. Any email you send to the past appears in the proper chronological order in your recipient's inbox. You can opt for it to show up read or unread by selecting the appropriate option."

According to Google, there is an upper limit of pre-dating your mail back to 1st April 2004 - the date Gmail was released.

It certainly looks like a neat feature with a multitude of uses, as borne out by the 'testimonials':

"I just got two tickets to Radiohead by being the 'first' to respond to a co-worker's 'first-come, first-serve' email. Someone else had already won them, but I told everyone to check their inboxes again. Everyone sort of knows I used Custom Time on this one, but I'm denying it."
Robby S., Paralegal
"I used to be an honest person; but now I don't have to be. It's just so much easier this way. I've gained a lot of productivity by not having to think about doing the 'right' thing."
Todd J., Investment Banker

"This feature allows people to manipulate and mislead people with falsified time data. Time is a sacred truth that should never be tampered with."
Michael L., Epistemology Professor

And perhaps best of all: "The entire concept of 'late' no longer exists for me. That's pretty cool. Thanks Gmail!"
Miriam S., Delivery girl

Pretty neat, eh?

You only get 10 emails per year which can be 'pre dated', though. Google's explanation:

Our researchers have concluded that allowing each person more than ten pre-dated emails per year would cause people to lose faith in the accuracy of time, thus rendering the feature useless.

And the technology behind this wonderful new function in Gmail?

Gmail utilizes an e-flux capacitor to resolve issues of causality.

Love it. Almost as good as their
'TiSP flush drive' last year. If the idea of wired broadband where you flush cables down your toilet to establish a connection wasn't wacky enough, an email-time-machine more or less nails it.


  1. That would explain why solicitors are reluctant to accept service by email.

  2. I think solicitors are reluctant to do a lot of things, Andro. Whether by email or otherwise.

    BTW: I had to post that via the awful blogger interface in a browser as I'm away from home right now. And boy, is it painful!! I guess I take Live Writer pretty much for granted now.

    I was wondering what Google were going to 'April Fool' the world with this year. This one's a nice touch, but it doesn't beat my favourite of last year - the flush drive. :-)


  3. The flush drive - genious! :)))

    You might like this, I think: http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/31/why-were-suing-facebook-for-25-million-in-statutory-damages/

    Some guy's suing facebook for $25 million for privacy breach!

  4. oh, and future search from google: http://www.google.com.au/intl/en/gday/index.html :O Sorry if you've already seen it, I'll stop spamming now! :p

  5. Thanks for the heads up about the Facebook story, Andro. I'd not heard about that one but found another FB related story on digg yesterday so I feel another Facebook related post coming on. :-)

    And the 'gDay' release on Google Australia is another classic. :-) Probably better than the Custom Time feature over here. Great stuff.

  6. I see you've customised the illustration! But it differs from the google's sample... *ponders* :o

  7. Yep, I only threw that sample screenshot up as a makeshift picture until I was home and could put something better up.

    And yes, it does differ from the Google sample - you don't miss much, Andro! ;-)

    I thought my alterations made the picture funnier - as the sample picture showed an email to somebody's Grandmother who forgot her birthday, I thought the point was better made if they forgot it by weeks than just hours as was illustrated by Google's original graphic. I also added a link to adjust the advanced settings of the 'e-flux capacitor'. After all, time travel is precise business and overshooting your desired 'destination' would not be good at all (you might get stuck in the 1800's, for instance). :-P
    So I figured the more control the better!

  8. Phew. For a minute I thought it wasn't a joke after all... ;D