Out of curiosity I pinged Google to see if the company would release usage numbers on the recently released themes and Labs add-ons in Gmail. The tools let users customize the Gmail experience in a number of ways, and all without the use of special browser add-ons or scripting hacks. More importantly, they let people custom tailor their e-mail experience no matter what computer they're on.
In other words, your theme and Labs add-ons can tell Google, or anyone else, a lot about why you're using the service.
While the company will not disclose the hard numbers on how many users are using each theme or Labs add-on, it did provide me with the top five most used in each category. You might find them interesting:
2. Pictures in chat
3. Calendar gadget
4. Attachment detector
5. Mark as read button
So what's the big takeaway here? People really enjoy nature. The earth-related themes dominate, with the classic, less blue look coming up just behind. Unsurprisingly, the terminal theme that emulates the look of a computer's command line interface, did not make the short list although I'd be interested to see how far it trails behind.
On the Labs side, the story is all about improving existing Gmail features. Superstars in particular is a response to people wanting to preserve some of the familiarity they're used to from Outlook. Stars are Gmail's equivalent of a flag in Outlook. With the Labs option activated they can be turned into red exclamation marks (or any color of star), then sorted accordingly, turning the feature into an alternate, and more visual way to manage e-mail.
Sadly missing from the top five are two of the goofier add-ons: mail goggles and old snakey. The first one keeps you from sending e-mails at odd hours without performing the virtual equivalent of a sobriety test, while the latter lets you play the classic time wasting game with a simple keyboard shortcut.
Google introduced Labs for Gmail back in early June. Since then none of the 30 add-ons has "graduated" to the main product. What's your favorite theme or Labs add-on?