Gmail Shipping Assistant Too Eager To Help

Gmail has a neat feature that lets you check the latest status of a package that is being delivered to you.

Here’s how it works. If Gmail can detect in the body of an email that a package is being sent to you and the email contains a tracking ID, then a module will be created in the right rail that has a link to the shipping carrier’s website displaying the latest status of the package.

Unfortunately, this feature has a tendency to pop up even if the email has nothing to do with a package begin sent. Below, I will show an example of this feature working correctly, as well as an example where the feature show up incorrectly.

Working as expected:

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When you click on the track package link in the right rail, you will see something like:

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And here is an example of a false positive where a link is incorrectly shown in the right rail when the content of the email has nothing to do with a package being sent:

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In the email above, Gmail is incorrectly interpreting a phone number as a package tracking ID. Also, the body of the mail mentions nothing about a package being sent. Ideally, Gmail can get a bit “smarter” in terms of how they determine if a package is being sent. Some possible ideas to decrease false positives:

– Follow the created link to the shipping carrier’s site and see if it is an invalid package ID
– Check the sender’s email address and match it to a common list of emails that relate to packages being sent i.e. @ebay.com and @amazon.com
– Search for certain key words i.e.: “shipping”, “package”, and “tracking”