By Tim Frederick | Aug 11, 2012 09:39 AM EDT
In a company blog post Wednesday, Google announced their intent to begin testing a new search function initially limited to a small, opt-in trial, but one they undoubtedly hope will prove appealing enough to users that it may become a standard search engine function in the future.
The new feature will pull information directly from user's e-mail messages when appropriate, and display it in a separate area of the search results screen. For example if you did a search on your favorite sports team, and you had messages in your inbox related to that team, those messages would like likely show up in your search results. You could then click the result to have the box expand and show you the entirety of the e-mail message.
Users can sign up for the trial here, though the process is not an instantaneous one, and Google even states that not all users will be able to have their accounts activated for the trial. Users will receive a confirmation e-mail when they're been approved for the trial. Once approved, users must simply be signed into their Gmail accounts for the search engine results to begin taking effect.
In an era where internet privacy concerns are on everyone's minds, it's a rather bold experiment by Google to launch a feature that invites them into your inbox, at least more so than they already are (they already use the content found in emails for personalized text ads that appear all around said email). While the feature is opt-in only at the moment, the mere fact that it's being considered for testing will surely raise a few shackles.
What's your take? Is this a useful feature for those with hundreds of messages fighting for attention in their inboxes, the content of which may be more relevant than anything they'll find in a normal search result? Or is this just another stepping stone to further privacy loss in an increasingly privacy-bereft internet?
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