Google Is Giving Gmail a Makeover

The Gmail interface is comfortably familiar. Unless you’ve started using the more simplified, predictive Inbox app, Google’s ubiquitous email client has stayed more or less the same for quite a while.

Today, however, Google announced a bevy of updates including the first major redesign of Gmail’s web interface in years.

The redesigned Gmail web interface is focused on quick productivity actions. Google is introducing features like attachments chips, hover actions, and hover cards to make the static inbox experience more interactive without the need for mulitple clicks.

Google is also surfacing several labs features that were previously hidden in Settings > Labs, like canned responses, the ability to create multiple inboxes, and a preview pane to customize your preferences for different inboxes.

The new Gmail is available today for all personal Gmail users and G Suite early adopter program (EAP) customers, but all are intended to boost team productivity, according to David Thacker, VP Product Management for G Suite.

Gmail is getting deeper G Suite intergations to directly create and edit Google Calendar invites, send notes to Google Keep, and manage to-do items in Tasks. Google is also releasing new Tasks mobile apps for Android and iOS for adding and editing tasks from your smartphone to manage in Calendar and Gmail. The Tasks app is available today in the iOS App Store and Google Play Store.

Aside from the new-look web app and Tasks mobile apps, Google also announced new security features, including Gmail confidential mode, and expanded AI capabilities like smart replies and notification priority settings.

Confidential mode is the biggest new Gmail security feature. This lets users not only lock a message containing sensitive information, but lets you set an expiration date for when the email will disappear, the same way an ephemeral message would on Snapchat. If a message is locked, it needs to be authenticated either by granting access or using additional two-factor authentication via SMS.

There’s also more granular control in confidential mode over what the recepient can do you with that email, including the ability for senders to enable or revoke privileges like forwarding or downloading attachments. Google redesigned Gmail’s security warnings to more prominently label potential phishing traps or other high-risk emails, a welcome addition especially given Gmail’s recent scam issues.

The more subtle aspect of Gmail’s redesign is on the intelligence side. Google is building AI into all its products, and there are a handful of new smart Gmail features rolling out as part of the update. One big productivity-focused addition is a Nudging feature, where Gmail will proactively remind you to follow up and respond to messages.

There’s a new high-priority notification setting as well. When enabled, users will only get notifications for impoortant messages to help reduce the clutter and noise in the everyday email experience. Google will also pop up new elements called unsubscribe cards recommending you unsubscribe from senders or mailing lists that frequently end up unopened or deleted.

Gmail’s offline capabilities have been bolstered as well, allowing you to search, write, respond, delete, or archive up to 90 days of messages while offline. Finally, Google is expanding Smart Reply, which had previously only been available in mobile apps, to the Gmail web interface.

Nudging, offline support, and confidential mode will roll out to all users in the next few weeks, Thacker said.

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