Major Gmail revamp includes snoozing, smart replies, and self-destructing emails
Since it launched in April 2004, Gmail has been one of the standard bearers for web-based email, and Google just announced a major refresh for it. As well as a visual overhaul, Gmail is getting confidential emails, the option to snooze messages, and smart replies, among other new features.
The new-look Gmail is rolling out gradually from today across 1.4 billion or so users, so be patient if it hasn't already appeared in your web browser. To see if it's available for you, click the cog icon in the top right-hand corner of the web interface and look for a "Try the new Gmail" option.
A cleaner, more streamlined interface will be the first change you notice, with a collapsible sidebar on the right where you can display information from Google Calendar, Google Keep, or Google Tasks (now being launched as a standalone app). Attachments appear right underneath conversations too, so you don't have to scroll through the whole thread to get to a photo or an invite.
Hover over a conversation and you'll see a new pop-up bar. Alongside regular features like archive and mark as read, users can now also snooze emails. The chosen messages will disappear from view before bouncing back into the inbox after the specified delay.
Gmail is getting smarter too, with a new "nudge" feature that reminds you to follow up on emails that Gmail thinks could be important. "Gmail will also 'nudge' you to follow up and respond to messages with quick reminders that appear next to your email messages to help make sure nothing slips through the cracks," says Google.
The smart reply feature that's already available for Gmail on mobile is coming to the web as well, so you can pick from a list of preset responses rather than go through the trouble of actually composing a full-length reply. The feature scans the incoming email and uses machine learning to suggest speedy responses, if it thinks the message is one that can be answered with a short reply.
With an eye on business users, Google is adding a "confidential mode" to Gmail that lets you restrict how an email can be forwarded, copied, downloaded, or printed. You'll also be able to set an expiry date for messages sent in confidential mode, and put an unlock code on top of emails too for extra security.
There's plenty more. Mobile notifications that only show up for high-priority emails, security warnings that get displayed more prominently, and prompts to unsubscribe from newsletters you never open, for example.
Some of these features, like email snoozing and smart replies, have previously been available in Google's other email service for the web and mobile, Inbox by Gmail. For the time being at least, it looks as though Google is keeping Inbox around as a testing ground for ideas that may or may not eventually get rolled into the mainstream version of Gmail.