Update: Opening up email to a greater number of characters is a good thing for users, but it's also exciting for spammers. Certain characters - such as ဝ, ૦, ο, and the letter o - look very similar. Too similar, really. So Gmail will now block email addresses attempting to take advantage of this, and it will use the Unicode Consortium's "highly-restricted" specification to do so. Wဝ૦ο!
It may seem to many of us that there are an endless number of email addresses available out there, but if your name contains characters that don't fit somewhere between A-Z, that illusion is shattered pretty quickly. Most of the world's people speak languages that use non-Latin characters, and Google is taking steps to address this. The company announced today that now users can send messages to/receive messages from email addresses containing accented or non-Latin characters.
This is just a first step towards a more inclusive email environment. Gmail still doesn't let people create accounts with non-Latin characters, though Google says that it wants to introduce this ability in the future. The company also intends to soon introduce support in Calendar as well.
The Internet Engineering Task Force created a new email standard with support for non-Latin characters in 2012, but it's up to every email provider and every website to adopt it. Gmail's a major player to get behind the idea, but we still need to see movement from competitors for this to really matter. Hopefully we do.