Gmail is getting a free update that will make it much easier for you to keep track of the deliveries you make this holiday season and in the future.
We’ve been there before: you pick up a few of this year’s best Black Friday deals and then you realize you need to keep a track of everything. Some are gifts you need to intercept in case someone you live with gets a peek at what’s coming their way, others are items you need to make sure will arrive by a certain date. To watch everything you usually need to dig through a heap of emails and use tracking codes for a wide variety of shipping companies – it’s tedious if nothing else.
Google is looking to simplify the whole process this year with a new Gmail update that will allow you to track deliveries in the app. The new package tracking feature is available across most major US shipping carriers and will give you an at-a-glance view of your parcel’s delivery status.
To stand out in your ever-growing stack of emails, the delivery notice will be given a new tag that gives you the latest update like “Your item is on its way” or a more specific message like “Arriving Wed, Dec 21.” If you open the email, you’ll get a more in-depth look at your package's delivery status; you’ll be able to see when the order was placed, when it was shipped, and when it is predicted to arrive.
In the blog post announcing the update, Google said that the feature will be improved further in the coming months. The next planned improvement will let Gmail show you that your package is being delayed and will automatically push the email to the top of your inbox so you don’t miss it.
If you want to take advantage of this new delivery tracking feature when it becomes available, you’ll need to opt-in by going into your Gmail settings. It’s currently not live but when it is, you should also see an option to opt-in in your Inbox (though you can also dismiss the message if you don’t want to use the feature).
Google's other holiday helper: Maps
Gmail isn't the only Google service that can help you with your holiday preparations. The search engine giant has a few other tools that can help you in its Maps app.
Google Maps is full of useful hidden features, including some hidden in plain sight like its popular times tool. When you click on a local business you can see lots of information about it including the general trend for when it’s busiest and when it's at its quietest. If you want to get in your in-person Christmas shopping without a rush of people around you, this feature can help you plan.
If you’re using the Maps app on one of the best Android phones, a similar feature can also help you decide when you want to set off on your holiday travels. The app can show you the general trend for travel times along your planned journey and can include real-time warnings about current traffic and accidents that may cause delays. Making use of this feature allows you to either set off later when the situation has hopefully improved, or warn the people you’re meeting that you’ll be late.
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Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.