Google will start a public test of a new Gmail feature that will automatically label certain types of mass and automated email so that users can more easily recognise and assign proper priority to them.
The idea is to make the Gmail inbox more organised and help users more quickly distinguish these types of messages from other more personal ones, which are sent to them exclusively and may be more important.
The feature is called Smart Labels and needs to be activated from the Labs tab on the Gmail Settings section of the account. When it's on, Smart Labels creates three labels called Bulk, Forums and Notifications, Google announced on Wednesday.
It then automatically applies the Bulk label to mass mailings users subscribe to, such as newsletters, and also filters these emails out of the inbox. They can be called up by clicking on the Bulk label.
Likewise, messages from discussion forums that users belong to get labelled Forums, while the Notifications label is applied to automated messages that are nonetheless sent only to the user, such as account statements and receipts.
Users can also modify the configuration and filter settings of these pre-built labels. For example, they can adjust the Bulk settings if they don't want those messages automatically routed out of the inbox view.
Smart Labels is designed for automated messages that users have agreed to receive by signing up for them. From the beginning, Gmail has had a separate feature to detect spam email and move it out of the inbox.
Smart Labels is the latest attempt by Google to provide its Gmail users with automated features and tools to deal with email overload, a problem that by all accounts is worsening across the board for email users in general.
In August of last year, Google rolled out a feature called Priority Inbox which automatically sorts messages in the Gmail inbox so that the most important and pressing ones appear at the top.