As predicted, Gmail has received its big makeover on the web—or at least, it’s starting to receive it, with certain users of Google’s business-oriented G Suite getting the first look.
This really is a huge revamp, with a look that’s much closer to the Gmail mobile apps, and a ton of new functionality. The changes are coming to consumers too—keep an eye out for a “Try the new Gmail” option in the settings at the top right of your screen—but there’s a big focus on business users here.
Gmail security updates
As such, security gets a lot of prominence. There’s a new “confidential mode” that makes it possible to set an expiry date on emails. Users will be able to set it so emails cannot be forwarded, copied, downloaded or printed.
But wait—this is not possible to do with regular emails, so how does Gmail enforce this confidentiality with emails sent to people who aren’t themselves using Gmail?
Essentially, Gmail’s confidential emails aren’t regular emails. Recipients who aren’t Gmail users will receive a link to the Gmail Confidential web portal, where they can securely read the message—if it’s not expired.
“Confidential mode will begin to roll out to consumer Gmail users and a limited number of G Suite customers in the coming weeks (broader rollout following),” G Suite product management chief David Thacker wrote in a blog post.
Google is also putting a lot of emphasis on its “artificial intelligence” capabilities in this refresh. There’s a new “nudging” feature that reminds users to respond to or follow up on important emails (users will also be able to “snooze” certain emails so that they get reminders to read them later, like with an alarm clock.) The “smart reply” feature that is already available on the Gmail mobile apps—suggesting possible responses to questions in emails—is now also coming to the web interface.
Gmail will now even ask users whether they want to unsubscribe to mailing lists, if it notes that they get a lot of emails from a particular list but never read them.
Google to-do list
Users will also be able to drag-and-drop emails from Gmail straight into Google’s new Tasks web app, to automatically create to-dos.
Businesses in the G Suite Early Adopter Program can start trying out the new features on Wednesday, by turning them on in the admin console.