Gmail, on Wednesday, got a much-awaited design refresh after five long years. However, design is not the only thing new in the "new" Gmail; a ton of functionality has been added to both the web as as well mobile interface. These include several AI-based features including Smart Reply, email snoozing, and nudging recipients to respond. Gmail now also includes certain privacy-focused features like a new Confidential mode, a revamped risk warning, and the ability to unsubscribe from newsletters with the click of a button. Let's have a look at some of the features in detail.
1. Email shortcuts
Hovering on an email conversation in your Gmail inbox will reveal shortcuts such as Archive, Delete, Mark as Read, and Snooze, right next to the preview. While the first three were already a part of Gmail's functionality, Snooze is the latest addition and it allows you to put off emails that you cannot get to at the moment. Shortcuts for apps such as Keep, Tasks, and Google Calendar will also be available on the right edge. These features are currently available on Inbox by Gmail.
2. "Nudge" you for replies
Gmail is also introducing an AI-powered "nudge" feature that will prompt users to follow up and respond to messages that haven't been replied to. For instance, for received emails, Gmail will use text like "Received X days ago. Reply?", and for sent emails, the mailing client will use text such as "Sent X days ago. Follow up?".
3. Smart Reply
After rumours from earlier this month, Smart Reply on Gmail's web interface has been rolled out in the New Gmail - almost a year after it came to the mobile version. This feature provides the user with contextual responses to reply to emails received. For instance, Gmail will detect when questions have been sent to your inbox and will offer responses in variations of Yes, No, or Maybe. These replies will vary depending on the context and history of messages. If you're already using the Gmail app, you know what these look like. Inbox by Gmail already has Smart Reply built in as well.
4. Risk warnings
Gmail on the Web will now display a risk warning prompt when it detects an email received from a potentially suspicious source. The prompt will display warning text - "This message seems dangerous" and offer a 'Delete Now' button. This will offer some protection against clicking on harmful links in emails that capture the user in a phishing/ impersonation scam.
5. Confidential Mode with 2-factor authentication
A new Confidential Mode, made possible due to Information Rights Management (IRM), has been added to Gmail. Available while composing an email, the mode provides senders with the option to prevent the recipient from forwarding, copying/ pasting, downloading, and printing the content in the email. This works even when mailing non-Gmail users, by sending a link instead of the actual email. When the sent mail is opened, the link will be fetched and displayed if you mailed another Gmail user, while other email users will only see the link; in both cases the security measures you set will be in force.
Additionally, an expiration date can be set to automatically delete the email after the mentioned time interval. Recepient verification is also available in Confidential Mode, which allows for standard or 2-factor SMS passcode verification.
6. Native offline mode
Gmail on web is also adding support for a new native offline mode that works a lot like the offline mode on Google Docs. Users can search, write, respond, delete, and archive up to 90 days worth of messages and work without interruption when Wi-Fi connectivity is unavailable. Offline mode will be helpful for areas with sketchy Internet connectivity or while on the go, helping users preserve their content. G Suite will get the feature in coming weeks.
7. Features on mobile
On mobile, while not a design refresh, Gmail is getting a few functional features. High-priority notifications will help users get notified about important mail threads and email addresses without filtering through the lot. This will be yet another AI-based feature allowing Gmail to assign priority to important emails from work, family, and so on. And in another win for spam removal, Gmail will now offer shortcuts to unsubscribe from newsletters when it thinks that you no longer care about them. A prompt with shortcuts to unsubscribe or refuse will be displayed on top of the inbox on the mobile interface.
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