What’s new in Gmail?

On April 25, Google unveiled an updated version of Gmail. In addition to a revamped look, the update adds features intended to help users manage their mail. Some of these features are not that new since it’s already available on Inbox by Gmail but there are a few exceptions.

One of those exceptions is Smart Compose. At the Google I/O developer conference on May 8, Smart Compose was introduced to much fanfare. Through Machine Learning, Smart Compose can predict what the users will write next as they type in the body of an email. As users write, suggested text to complete sentences will appear in the background of the email in a lighter text. For now, the feature is limited to English only.

Another new feature in Gmail is the “nudge” feature, which uses algorithms to track regular correspondents messages users have not yet replied to after a few days. Gmail will move those unanswered messages to the top of the inbox with a gentle reminder to reply. If users find this sort of software-based intervention creepy, it can be turned off in the Gmail settings.

Inbox by Gmail users will recognise the Smart Reply feature, which supplies short, canned phrases to send as responses to certain messages. Customisable inbox view has also been brought in to Gmail which gives users three inbox display densities (Default, Comfortable and Compact). The Default view is where users can see and preview attachments without opening the email. Users who prefer the old Gmail look may want to try the Comfortable or Compact view. The web version adopts the Snooze option for postponing attention to a message. Google’s calendar, notes and tasks apps also appear in the mail window on the right for easy access.

Google has also stepped up Gmail’s security, with bigger warnings about suspicious messages. If users are sending sensitive information, they can also use the new Confidential mode by clicking the padlock-and-clock icon at the bottom of the new message window. By using the options in the Confidential mode, users can require a passcode sent to the recipient’s phone in order to open the message and then have the message disappear in a day, a week, a month, three months or five years.

To enable the new Gmail UI and features, the system admin has to enable it on the Admin Console. Administrators should be able to access this as part of their Early Adopter Program by going to the Admin Console and selecting to allow users to access the new Gmail. After the admin has turned this on, individual accounts will receive the “Try the new Gmail” option on their accounts under the Settings route. Users who want to revert to the previous generation Gmail can do so by clicking the Settings menu icon and select “Go back to classic Gmail.” It will not last forever, but the older version of the system will be around for a while longer.

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