Google Takes Aim at Microsoft, Again, with New Gmail

Posted on April 25, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Google with 26 Comments

Google Takes Aim at Microsoft, Again, with New Gmail

Google doesn’t update Gmail very often, which is strange given its massive installed base. But the firm announced its first major Gmail update in over two years today. And this one takes aim, squarely, at both Microsoft and the enterprise.

“The all-new Gmail [provides] with a brand new look on the web, advanced security features, new applications of Google’s artificial intelligence, and even more integrations with other G Suite apps,” Google’s David Thacker writes.

To be clear, Gmail is huge: The active user base has now surpassed 1.4 billion users, Google says. That includes both free and paying (e.g. business) customers, of course. And while we still don’t quite know how many users have paid accounts, Google says that over 4 million businesses are using G Suite, of which the business version of Gmail is a part.

Here’s what’s new in today’s update.

Gmail confidential mode. Now, you can protect sensitive email content by creating expiration dates or revoking previously sent messages. Google notes that it is also possible to protect data even if a recipient’s email account has been hijacked while the message is active. This will become available for both (free) Gmail and G Suite customers.

Information Rights Management (IRM) controls. Gmail now includes built-in IRM controls so that G Suite admins can remove the option to forward, copy, download or print messages, reducing the risk of confidential information being accidentally shared with the wrong people.

Redesigned security warnings. Security warnings are now simpler to understand and give a clearer “call to action” to users.

AI features. Gmail now sports a number of AI-powered features like Nudging, Smart Reply, and high-priority notifications. Nudging proactively reminds you to follow up or respond to messages. Smart Reply, which was previously made available on mobile, prompts you with ready-made responses that are based on the email you’re reading. And high-priority notifications is a new setting that only notifies you of important messages, keeping interruptions to a minimum.

Refined UX. The Gmail for web interface has been fine-tuned with a new look and feel. You can hover over a message to see icon-based options; reference, create or edit Calendar invites; capture ideas in Keep; manage to-dos in Tasks (a new Google mobile and web app), and more easily access Gmail add-ons.

Offline. While Google has offered a special version of Gmail with offline capabilities for years, this feature is now part of the core product. Now you can “search, write, respond, delete, or archive up to 90 days of messages, just as you would working online, but offline,” Google notes. “Teams can start using offline capabilities in coming weeks.”

The new Gmail is heading out to G Suite users in the Early Adopter Program (EAP) today. Free Gmail users can enable the relevant new features today, too: Navigate to Settings > Try the new Gmail.


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