Google began alerting G Suite admins today that a “new Gmail experience” would be previewed in the coming weeks. This afternoon, the web redesign, with features like Smart Reply, snoozing, and widget-like plugins, has leaked.
Android Authority (and now The Verge) has posted a series of screenshots for the “dogfood” version of Gmail that is likely in testing by Googlers and other trusted partners.
The fundamental layout remains unchanged with system and custom labels located at the very left of the screen. However, users will find new items like “Snoozed” and “Indef” as part of the upcoming snoozing feature that was first introduced with Inbox.
Users can choose from three view setting — currently “Display density” — for their inbox. Again taking inspiration from Google’s other email app, the new Default view features inline image attachments and Drive files to quickly browse messages.
Meanwhile, one screenshot from The Verge shows that hovering over an email in the inbox view will surface quick actions towards the right to archive, delete, mark as read, and snooze.
“Easy access” to Google apps was touted this morning and we now know that this is referring to a feature called “plugins” by Android Authority. Notably, they are very reminiscent of Gmail Add-ons introduced last year by Google so that third-party developers can create apps.
With the new Gmail, Google will be releasing a handful of first-party ones for Calendar and Keep. Currently, Add-ons only appear when users are viewing a message. In the new experience, there is a persistent right sidebar that appears throughout Gmail and can be expanded to show upcoming calendar appointments and notes. Meanwhile, the Google Tasks revamp spotted earlier this month is also launching with the new Gmail.
Update 4/13: Another feature (via The Verge) that went unmentioned in Google’s message to administrators on Wednesday is a new “Confidential mode” that will likely be very appealing for enterprise users. From the compose window, there will be a new button to activate a privacy feature that restricts recipients from forwarding, copy/pasting, downloading, or printing a “confidential” correspondence.
Upon enabling, the compose window adopts a dark blue highlight, with a “Content expires” box at the bottom further reminding the sender when the message is set to expire. Meanwhile, there is also a “Require passcode” option that will require an SMS authentication to open an email.
When reading an email, users will notice several design tweaks. An icon for snoozing joins the existing archive and delete option above the message body, while below are smart replies in rounded bubbles. This circular motif is present everywhere including the reply and forward buttons, as well as in highlights.
Assuming these screenshots show the version that will enter the Early Access Program, Gmail is set for a nice modernization. The revamp does not really change the core email experience like Inbox attempted to do, but tries to make everything smarter.
Meanwhile, features like Add-ons could be useful if they are feature rich enough so that users do not have to switch between applications.
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