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Gmail will track packages to help with your holiday shopping

You won't have to leave the app to follow a shipment.

Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

You might not have to jump between your email client and a web browser just to find out if a holiday gift will arrive on time. Google is updating the Gmail app with simple package tracking. If your order email has a supported tracking number (more on that in a moment), you'll see the shipping status at the top of the message. If your must-have item arrives tomorrow, you may know without having to plug digits into a web link or dedicated app.

The feature will be available in the US in the "coming weeks," and will support most large shipping providers. It's strictly opt-in, so Google won't look up your tracking numbers unless you want it to. In the months ahead, Gmail will also watch for delays and surface the order email with a label indicating the problem. You may know about a delivery setback before you've even received an official notification.

Package tracking in Google Gmail
Package tracking in Google Gmail (Google)

The timing is convenient, of course. Google is hoping to get ahead of the holiday shopping rush and make Gmail your go-to app for tracking packages. That could help keep you in the company's ecosystem. All the same, it should be a genuinely useful feature — particularly if you shop smaller stores that don't always have their own apps.