Communal sigh of relief as Google announces 'undo send' feature

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Google recently made its undo send email feature available to all gmail users on computer platforms. The feature, once activated by users, provides a delayed send period, customizable from 5 to 30 seconds, in which the choice to send can be cancelled.

The six year development of this obviously useful feature has sparked curiosity. One long-time computer industry analyst suggests that Google simply forgot about it amid a large vault of beta testing projects. Whatever the reason for the long test period, critical reception has been entirely, if unsurprisingly, positive.

Reviews have roundly praised the benefit of preventing accidental mistakes, such as sending to the wrong person, typos and other like errors. This will spare consequences ranging from personal or  professional embarrassment to serious privacy violation. In case you are of the rare breed that has not brushed with such email concerns, here are some examples of how emails can go dreadfully wrong.

Despite the useful relief of some of the immense anxiety that plagues email, the feature should not be a crutch that enables sloppy work, knowing that a simple ‘undo send’ watches over you. Rather, it is a reconciliation of the facts that people make mistakes in life and many online programs lock in such mistakes immediately and without recourse. Google had the capability to help and now it has.

The business world is especially likely to take notice of the acknowledgement that mistakes occur in a world increasingly dominated by instant and irrevocable communication. Text messages and work chat programs are increasingly competing with email, pitching speed and ease of use. Amid this competitive environment, Google’s new feature has strengthened its defense against such competition.

To say that the undo send feature has abated alternative communication systems’ encroachment upon email in the business world would be extreme. It has, however, gone some way in gaining support from many of gmail’s 900 million users. And, it is an interesting reminder that in a technological world dominated by ruthless and unceasing innovation that a simple development can be among the most beneficial.  

Clark is an Associate Editor.