Earlier today Google started the process of rolling out an overhaul of their Gmail web interface. Signs of the impending changes were first spotted a couple weeks ago. Google is planning to freshen up the interface and will be adding to the main interface to make it easier for users to access related tools. The update also brings some new features, some of which Google says will carry over to the mobile client as well.
Some of the big changes to the interface include things like a new side panel that provides quick access to things like tasks or the Google Calendar. The idea is to make Gmail more of a hub for productivity. Some of the other changes geared to making it easier to stay in the inbox are on a smaller scale, though no less important. Gmail will now provide a way for users to quickly access attachments via some convenient links without scrolling through an entire conversation or even opening an email message.
To help manage mail processing, Gmail users will be able to “snooze” a message, a function that has come over from their Inbox app. Another new feature is being described as the “nudge” feature in which Gmail will provide reminders and hints that a message may need some follow-up action by a user. Another feature coming over from mobile to the desktop will be Smart Replies.
Google notes a couple features being added specifically for mobile users. These include high-priority notifications to help combat the distraction of “normal” notifications. Google also says Gmail will start providing suggestions about newsletters or other emails that a user may want to consider unsubscribing from. New warnings will also appear on the desktop and mobile versions warning of potentially risky emails.
Finally, one feature that had been spotted was the ability to set an expiration on an email. It turns out that is part of a bigger “confidential mode” that Google is adding. Along with the expiration settings, users will be able to do things like restrict the ability to forward, copy, download or print message they send.
Google says the update started rolling out today, although some of the features will not appear for a few weeks. If the update is available for your account, you can turn it on by clicking on the gear icon for settings in the top right corner of the web interface and selecting “Try the new Gmail”. Once you select that, you can use the same method to go back via “Go back to classic Gmail”.