One of the most fun aspects of using Google products is the degree to which the company lets you try out its new ideas. Though the Google Labs page at the heart of this movement has been discontinued, individual features continue to live on. For instance, while Google Maps won’t let you measure distances by default, it’s a simple task when activating the experimental Labs feature. The latest Google release to see the inclusion of some of these in-development features is the Gmail app for Ice Cream Sandwich, which gains an “Experiments” section.
These Experiments settings aren’t just an Ice Cream Sandwich feature, but are exclusive to the latest 4.0.3 build. So, for the moment at least, you’re a little restricted in how easy it is to access. That’s fine, because for now there’s really not much going on there. One setting lets you create a local index of message content for performing full-text searches. This sounds like the offline search mode introduced with Android 4.0; we’re not entirely sure yet if this modifies that functionality, or simply offers you a way to disable it. The other setting that’s currently available lets you use “chips” to drag-and-drop contact information between fields, letting you quickly reorganize how contacts will be receiving your message.
It’s nice to see Google make these options available, but we can’t wait to see how it grows-out this Experiments section in future release.