After weeks of rumors, Google has announced an overhaul of Gmail, including features that allow users to send self-destructing emails. The changes are described in a Wednesday blog post from Google.
The most controversial new feature is the Confidential Mode, allowing firms to protect sensitive content in their emails by “creating expiration dates or revoking previously sent messages,” Google writes.
It adds: “Because you can require additional authentication via text message to view an email, it’s also possible to protect data even if a recipient’s email account has been hijacked while the message is active.”
“This kind of utility has never been used on a massive scale and would do a great deal to minimize the ‘data’ left out in the universe,” comments Len Shneyder, VP of industry relations at SendGrid.
The changes are designed to help firms that use G-Suite achieve efficiency and data security, Google writes, emphasizing the impact on businesses. This will affect “the more than 4 million paying businesses that use G Suite work safer, smarter and more efficiently.”
Another feature is Information Rights Management -- controls that allow firms to “remove the option to forward, copy, download or print messages,” Google writes. “This helps reduce the risk o confidential information being accidentally shared with the wrong people.”
The company is also offering redesigned security warnings, and features as “Nudging” — a function that will “push emails it identifies as I important to the top of your inbox.” The new Gmail will also push suggestions for unsubscribe from email lists.
Another function, High-priority notifications, “notifies you of important messages, keeping interruptions to a minimum,” Google writes.
In addition, Gmail users — who reportedly number 1.4 billion worldwide — can see click attachments in the inbox before opening a thread, facilitating quick RSVPs.
Gmail will be integrated with other G-Suite apps. And the side panel will allow account holders to access apps such as the Google calendar and other add-ons.
Finally, with Google Tasks, users can “handle work on the go.”
The package of improvements has drawn positive reviews from email marketing professionals.
For one thing, Shneyder notes that “the ability to add widgets into Gmail including a calendar means that the new redesign can better serve business users whose two most important tools are calendars and their inboxes.
Regarding the self-destruct mode, Shneyder adds that “so many people keep every email, from their sent folder to their inbox, they horde email and just don’t bother deleting—instead they rely on Google’s search feature to sort through reams of emails.”
He adds, “Having an option to ‘delete’ or make an email vanish, regardless of it being a time sensitive message/offer/invite is a great way to minimize footprint and clutter.
But Shneyder also warns that there is a drawback — that “self-destructive emails really will only work within the Google universe. Once an email is sent it’s really quite impossible to claw it back or force a receiving MUA to delete it from a user’s inbox.”
That said, he concludes that “understanding that Gmail is the largest mailbox provider on the planet means that the feature will have a material effect on how we use the platform and email in general.”