Unified Communications Featured Article

Take Back That Unpleasant Gmail with 'Undo Send' Option

June 24, 2015

Ever wish the “send” button on an email program had an undo option? For the longest time, this seemed like one of the most final and absolute things users ever did; sending that email was as irrevocable an option as pressing the Big Red Button to launch a country's nuclear arsenal. But now, Gmail users have an unexpected new option: an undo button for sending emails known simply as “undo send.”

The “undo send” button allows users to cancel a send in progress by adding a delay to delivery; instead of delivery within seconds, the delay now goes between five and 30 seconds should a user activate an option to put this system to use. Those users that use “undo send” within that delay, meanwhile, cancel delivery of the message and have an opportunity to reconsider its content, target, or both.

Interestingly, “undo send” had actually been a part of Gmail in Google's experimental labs for the last six years, and anyone who wanted in could reportedly do so with some extra work and hunting around. Google had even added the “undo send” option to an app known as Inbox which serves as an email management app. But now, it's available right from the Gmail settings roster, a move that will no doubt prove welcome to the over 900 million account holders worldwide.

On the one hand, this is actually an exciting notion; the idea that a send function can be canceled is certainly noteworthy and the kind of thing that would be welcome for users. I personally have run into this kind of thing before, where I remember something I should have sent along with a message. That delay might have kept me from having to send two messages where one would have done the job. Of course, the downside here is that this isn't likely to be a competitive advantage for Google, at least not for long. It's not exactly the kind of thing that could be readily patented, I wouldn't think, and there's probably not much stopping other Web-based mail systems from adding a delay mechanism as well, one that potentially could be user-controlled. Why just offer a five to 30 second delay mechanism when it could be set for an hour, or three, or even days? It would theoretically even be possible to build the delay directly into the system, and then require the user to press a “delay override” button after pressing the “send” button to send the message immediately.

Still, though, this is a smart idea, even if it's one that's likely to be copied by a lot of other providers and potentially even refined upon. Advancement in email doesn't seem to come around much, and a tool like this could spare some people plenty of embarrassment, inconvenience, or both.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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