Google on Tuesday announced that it's opening up its email service to better support more of the world's languages.
Gmail will now be able to recognize email addresses that use characters from languages such as Chinese and Devanagari, and will also recognize addresses with accented Latin characters, like "é" or "ó." Google notes that more than half the world communicates with non-Latin characters.
The change, while small, is in line with the company's greater efforts to accommodate larger populations. One of Google's audacious "moon shot" projects is called Loon, which aims to beam Wi-Fi to rural communities by way of giant, high-altitude balloons. Connecting more people means Google can expand use of its services to more people. As of June 2012 -- the last time Google publicly released numbers -- Gmail had 425 million active users.
Google also said it plans to open up its Calendar service in the same way, and will eventually let Gmail users create email address using non-Latin characters.
"This is just a first step and there's still a ways to go," wrote Pedro Chaparro Monferrer, a Google software engineer, in a blog post.
The foundation for the change dates back to 2012, when an organization called the Internet Engineering Task Force created a new way for email services to recognize non-Latin email addresses. In making the move, Google said it hopes to set an example for other companies to do the same.