Google Refreshes Gmail With AI, Improved Privacy Protection

First overhaul of webmail system since 2013 as Google seeks to take the fight to Microsoft

Google is undertaking a significant shakeup of its popular Gmail webmail system, as it seeks to combat Microsoft’s Office 365.

Included in the refresh is a brand new look, additional AI capabilities, improved privacy, as well as a self destruct option for emails in light of the incoming GDPR regulations.

Google has apparently been working on the changes for two years now, and the redesign is to help Google better compete with Microsoft’s Outlook on the business side and modernise the consumer email experience.

Gmail changes

Google announced the changes in a blog posting by Matthew Izatt, Gmail’s Product Manager, which he described as ‘major improvements.’

He started off by saying that Gmail’s new look will help users get more done. For example, clicking on attachments (i.e. photos etc) can be done without opening or scrolling through large conversations.

Another feature is the new snooze button, so users can put off emails that they just can’t get to right now. Gmail will also “nudge” the user to follow up and respond to messages with quick reminders that appear next to their email messages.

A smart reply option will help users respond quicker to messages.

“This is an entire rewrite of our flagship, most-used product,” Jacob Bank, product manager lead for Gmail, was quoted by the Guardian newspaper as saying.

Another change is that Google has also improved Gmail’s phishing protection, with new warnings about suspicious emails, and a new “confidential mode”. This allows users to send emails with expiration dates, and stop the forwarding, copying, downloading or printing of emails and revoke previously sent emails.

Other comestic changes are to bring Gmail in line with Microsoft Office. This includes locating Google’s calendar, tasks and note-taking services within the same page as emails and alongside existing instant messaging options.

Gmail is currently used by 1.4 billion people each month, and it now offers up to 90 days of emails offline. This means that users can search, write and manage messages without internet access in the browser.

The Gmail changes will be rolled out over the next few weeks.

Enterprise move

The refresh is just one of the recent changes with Gmail.

Last October Google opened up Gmail so it could be tightly integrated with business applications, regardless of platform.

Last August Google extended its phishing protection to iPhone Gmail users. Similar protections had been given to Android users in May 2017.

The recent updates shows that the search engine giant is determined with its G-Suite of making a play for enterprise customers, many of which may still be such using on-premise systems, or are currently making use of Microsoft Office as their productivity suite.

Microsoft of course is not likely to take such an encroachment lying down, which is likely why it is pushing the boosted integration and functionality of its own productivity software.

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