Following up on a recent mishap
with Gmail, in the latest of a handful of service outages the past year, Google has created a way for users to determine whether or not services are running normally. Coming in the form of an online dashboard, this new feature will give current status updates on a host of Google services, including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google video and more. This is their third public action following the recent outage, the first being an apology and the second being a reimbursement for paying customers.
While it doesn't give the end user any control over their service, it's at least a troubleshooting tool that lets someone know if the problem is on their end or lies in Google's hands. It also might provide some reassurance to users that the company is looking into any downed service situation. Google itself has stated it is being developed because they see a need for a higher level of communication, and a live status page is one way to do it.
The status page gives current status along with several days of backtracking, along with detailed status information during outages. The recent Gmail outage, for instance, can be viewed and shows a timeline of when the problem began and when it was fixed. You can take a look at the status page yourself here