Google today added support for addresses that contain accented or non-Latin characters in Gmail, and promised that Google Calendar will get the same treatment “shortly.” This means Gmail users can send emails to, and receive emails from, people who have these characters in their email addresses.
Google also plans to make it possible for its users to use these characters to create Gmail accounts, but wouldn’t say when that would happen aside from “in the future.” The company appears to be slowly adopting the standard created by Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in February 2012 to see how the rest of the online community reacts.
In case you are interested, here is the abstract of IETF’s standard:
Full use of electronic mail throughout the world requires that (subject to other constraints) people be able to use close variations on their own names (written correctly in their own languages and scripts) as mailbox names in email addresses. This document introduces a series of specifications that define mechanisms and protocol extensions needed to fully support internationalized email addresses. These changes include an SMTP extension and extension of email header syntax to accommodate UTF-8 data. The document set also includes discussion of key assumptions and issues in deploying fully internationalized email. This document is a replacement for RFC 4952; it reflects additional issues identified since that document was published.
Google’s thinking is very simple. The company argues the internationalization of email addresses is necessary to include everyone on the planet:
Less than half of the world’s population has a mother tongue that uses the Latin alphabet. And even fewer people use only the letters A-Z. So if your name (or that of your favorite pet) contains accented characters (like “José Ramón”) or is written in another script like Chinese or Devanagari, your email address options are limited.
As with any proposal by a standards organization, however, everyone has to play ball. In this case, Google rightly points out that every email provider and every website that asks you for your email address has to play by the same rules. Gmail is popular enough to get the ball rolling, but it will be up to the likes of Microsoft and Yahoo to see if it gains any momentum.
See also – Google now lets you download a copy of your Gmail and Google Calendar data and Google brings mouse and trackpad handwriting support to Gmail in over 50 languages and Docs in over 20 languages
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