Got yourself a pen pal that just happens to speak another language? A new feature in Gmail Labs automatically translates foreign-language email messages to your native tongue directly in Gmail.
Once you've enabled the feature (go to Settings -> Labs and enable Message translation), using it is a breeze: Simply click the translate link that automatically appears when an email is in a different language than you're default; the text translates before your very eyes.
Most of us probably don't regularly converse with folks via email with whom we don't share a common language (in fact, most of the foreign-language email in our inbox is unfortunately spam), but given the right circumstances, it's a great new feature. You're still at the mercy of Google Translate's capabilities, but if you're just looking to get the gist, it should do nicely.
New in Labs: Automatic message translation [Gmail Blog]