On 25 April, Gmail rolled out its latest update to the email service, and many changes have been announced, ranging from a substantial visual redesign on its web-based email service, to a new confidential mode.

What you can expect

Speaking to The Verge, the lead product manager for Gmail, Jacob Bank, said that the redesign comes in the hope of “making people safer and more productive”. In terms of user safety, the new version of Gmail will see a number of new additions:

  1. Confidential mode will allow senders to set an expiration date for sensitive emails, or to revoke them in their entirety. This is done by not sending confidential content in the email itself, but to rather send along a link to the content, the time limit of which can be managed by the sender.
  2. IRM (integrated rights management) will allow senders to block certain emails from being forwarded, copied, downloaded or printed.
  3. 2FA, or two-factor authentication will allow senders to require authentication via a passkey that is sent per text message before confidential emails can be opened.

In addition to these new features, Gmail will also take bigger steps to counter phishing scams by changing the current basic banners, warning users of emails that seem suspicious, to huge, colour-coded alerts which will be difficult to miss.

To aid productivity within the email service, Gmail is also rolling out a number of changes to the way we interact with our inboxes:

  1. Email snoozes will be integrated into the Gmail inbox, and users will now be able to use their mouse to hover over the most common interactions they have with their mails, including options to mark it as read, archive it, delete it, or snooze it for later.
  2. When Google notices that an email requires a time-sensitive reply, it will now nudge a user to draw the attention to it.
  3. Smart reply options will also be coming to Gmail on the web, to cut the time required to reply to an email.

The improved user interface of the new version of Gmail will include a new side panel on the right side of the screen, which will integrate other G Suite apps like Google Calendar, to allow users to set up meetings in their calendar straight from their email. Another change is the addition of Google Tasks, which allows users to make notes without having to leave their email. A Google Tasks app for iOS and Android was also released on 25 April 2018.

The Gmail mobile app sees the introduction of high-priority notifications. Google’s AI determines which emails a user will want to see immediately and which ones are not as urgent, and notifies a user accordingly. A new one-tap unsubscribe prompt will allow users to easily unsubscribe from newsletters and other regular emails that they don’t want to receive anymore.

The changes to Gmail will be rolled out globally on 25 April 2018, although they will not be available to all users immediately. The first users will be invited to opt in to the new changes. Some of the changes that were announced are quite dramatic but according to tech experts, they seem to be carefully considered and necessary for all of Gmail’s 1.4 billion users.

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