Google rolled out a redesign of its Gmail service on Wednesday, the first time it’s done so in seven years. The interface now looks softer and less compact, which corresponds with the aesthetics of other G Suite apps like Google Calendar and Drive. What’s more notable, however, is the host of new security-focused and AI-enabled features now available on the email service.
The features that have been grabbing the most attention are those in “confidential mode,” which allows users to set expiration dates for emails by sending people a link to the message that won’t work after a certain amount a time. Other features that help ensure communications are secure include the option to prohibit the forwarding, copying, downloading, or printing of certain emails, and the option to require that recipients use two-factor authentication before they can access an email. Google also claims that it has improved protections against scams, which can purportedly prevent more than 99.9 percent of malware, spam, and phishing emails from reaching inboxes.
The new AI tools include “smart replies,” which allow users to choose from suggested responses, and reminders to respond to certain emails. The new Gmail also has an AI system that identifies email subscriptions that users don’t often interact with and helps them unsubscribe.
The third set of new features are designed to make Gmail easier to use, such as the ability to “snooze” emails so that they are hidden from an inbox until a user is ready to reply to them. The interface also now has a side panel through which people can access other G Suite apps and use them side by side with the Gmail inbox, thus cutting down on the need to switch between different windows or tabs. The side panel additionally comes with a to-do list called “Tasks” that users can drop emails into, which then populates Calendar with deadlines.
With 1.4 billion accounts, Gmail is currently the most popular email service in the world. Users can switch to the new version via the gear icon on the top right corner of the interface, though the redesign has not rolled out to everyone yet.