Friday, September 19, 2008
I've received several reports from Gmail users that they now have the RTL/LTR buttons in the English interface. So far all reports came from users located in Israel's IP-address space, and I have been unable to see the buttons when using Gmail from the UK (Google Mail as it calls itself there), so my current conclusion is that the visibility of the buttons is dependent on the user's IP address.
There is currently no official word from Google on the subject, as far as I can see, so my theory is still to be verified (feel free to share your own experience if it adds to my observations either way). However, if my understanding is correct this should solve the problem for the great majority of relevant users for the great majority of the time (I'm assuming here that IP addresses in Arab/Persian/etc. speaking areas also have access to the buttons).
I imagine the limitation stems from the desire not to further complicate Gmail's settings pages.
The only thing missing now is a back-door to activate the feature when using Gmail from other countries. I could suggest a html tag along the lines of:
Google, if you please?