Gmail is getting a free update that will make it easier for you to keep track of your deliveries this holiday season and beyond.
We've been there before: You pick out some of the best Black Friday deals this year, then realize you need to keep track of everything. Some are gifts you need to intercept in case someone you live with has an idea of what's to come, others are items you need to make sure arrive by a certain date. To see everything you usually need to rummage through a stack of emails and use tracking codes for a wide variety of shipping companies is tedious, to say the least.
Google is looking to simplify the whole process this year with a new update to Gmail that will let you track deliveries within the app. The new package tracking feature is available with most major US carriers and will give you at-a-glance information about the delivery status of your package.
(Image credit: Google)
To stand out from your ever-growing pile of emails, the delivery notification will have a new label giving you the latest update like "Your item is on its way" or a more specific message like "Arrival Wednesday December 21." If you open the email, you'll get a deeper insight into the delivery status of your package; you will be able to see when the order was placed, when it was shipped and when it is expected to arrive.
In the blog post (opens in a new tab) announcing the update, Google said that the feature will be further improved in the coming months. The next planned enhancement will allow Gmail to show you that your package is late and 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's available, you'll need to sign up by going to your Gmail settings. You're currently offline, but when you are, you should also see a subscribe option in your inbox (although you can also dismiss the message if you don't want to use the feature).
Google's other vacation assistant: Maps
Gmail isn't the only Google service that can help you with your vacation plans. The search engine giant has a few other tools that can help you in its Maps app.
Google Maps is packed with useful hidden features, including some hidden in plain sight, like its popular weather tool. When you click on a local business, you can see a lot of information about it, including the general trend of busiest and quietest hours. If you want to do your holiday shopping in person without the crowds, this feature can help you plan.
If you use the Maps app on one of the better Android phones, a similar feature can also help you decide when you want to go on vacation. The app can show you the general trend of travel times along your planned route and can include real-time warnings about current traffic and accidents that may cause delays. Using this feature allows you to leave later when the situation has improved or to warn people you know that you will be late.