Gmail lets you unsend email

Posted by Samantha Rose Hunt

Chicago (IL) - A Google  post unveils a new service, “Google Unsend” which allows users to unsend e-mails they don’t want delivered within a five second window. Though the product does seem to have more validity than Twitter Premier services April Fool’s Day is approaching, so I question the products authenticity. In fact, it has actually given me Déjà vu. Remember “Gmail Custom Time”?

Google has a history of providing users with technologies which save individuals from themselves. With products such as "Google Goggles", which prevents users from emailing under the influence during the early morning hours by making them complete a math quiz first. There is also the Google Domains Applications, typically used by businesses which use Gmail on a corporate level has a feature which alerts users that emails are coming from outside of the company via an orange border around sender address. This is to prevent the sharing of private or sensitive company information with outside individuals. The forgotten attachment detector is available to all Gmail users to prevent any embarrassing “Oops, forgot the attachment” messages by detecting the word “attach” and alerting users that there are no attachments with the document. Now, the new “Gmail Unsend” feature will too protect you from becoming your own worst enemy.

We’ve all been there. After an upsetting e-mail from a boss, or a significant other you reply back without a breather. Instantly you regretting hitting the send key, and you realize you want your words back. Maybe you’ve hit the “reply all” key when you really only meant to make a direct response to the sender. What if you submit your resume for a new job, and see that you misspelled a word, or copy and pasted wrong company information. Ooops! Undo Send is a feature which allows you to jerk back that electronic response before it is delivered. But you must do this with haste!

The feature which was developed by an engineer in Japan was utilized internally for testing. It has the ability to recall e-mail as long as it is done within five seconds (with an option to increase the unsend time window to 10 seconds). Trying to add additional recall time would cause a lag in e-mail delivery in general, which would make communication frustrating. The company claims they might potentially opt to increase time options for the function. The feature does not merely recall an email, it pulls it back meaning there will be no record that you ever sent it in the first place.

Users can turn the option on in Gmail Labs (the small Erlenmeyer flask icon beside your username) by going to Settings. Once you’ve added it you’ll see a new “Undo” link on every sent email confirmation.

Personally, I don’t think this feature would be of any benefit with a mere 5 second response time. If I’ve fired off an angry e-mail, or said something I regret it typically takes me longer than 5 seconds to realize it, by then it’d be too late. But for some users this might save you from a drunken profession of love, or a snide remark to a coworker.