Google’s building package tracking right into your Gmail inbox

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Illustration: The Verge

Google is adding package tracking features to Gmail, which should make it easier to see where your orders are at a glance while you scroll through your emails. In a blog post on Wednesday, the company says you’ll start seeing “a simple, helpful view of your package tracking and delivery information right in your inbox” in the next few weeks.

Gmail will show you the delivery date on the list item for any shipping email, making it so you don’t have to actually open the email and click a tracking link to figure out when you should expect the package. If you do go into the email, though, you’ll see a card with more detailed info. At the moment, it seems as if the feature will be opt-in — when it becomes available, you’ll be able to turn it on from a notification that shows up in your inbox or through settings.

Gif showing an email in Gmail’s list view that has an “Arriving Wed, December 21” label under it. When it’s tapped, the email displays with a card above it showing what’s in the package, and that it’s currently in transit. GIF: Google
You’ll be able to get delivery dates without having to actually open the email.

Google says Gmail will also be able to notify you when a package has been delayed and bring the order email to the top of your inbox. That feature seems to be coming later, though, as the post says it’ll roll out “in the coming months.”

The features will work with “most major U.S. shipping carriers,” but there is one elephant in the room: Amazon. The retailer’s shipment notification emails don’t include tracking information or even tell you what products have shipped (perhaps because the company didn’t want Google to be able to track what you bought from it and use that info for advertising).

Google spokesperson Madison Veld told The Verge that Amazon’s email format means that Gmail won’t be able to show tracking info for it, saying that the feature will be available “for participating merchants” and that “if a tracking number is not included in the merchant’s order email, the package tracking feature won’t be available.”

That’s not unique to Google —there’s a history with other package delivery apps struggling to keep up with Amazon — but it does mean that you won’t be able to entirely rely on Gmail to keep track of your items. Still, the capabilities Google is adding should be handy for people who don’t necessarily need the power of a dedicated package tracking app (though those do still have the advantage of showing just your packages instead of putting that information between all the other emails you get).



Source: The Verge

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