Not long ago, Microsoft gave its e-mail service, Outlook, a new look – and that was it; nothing else changed.
But Microsoft’s Office, which has revenue numbers that exceed Google’s $2 billion G-Suite revenue, according to Reuters, isn’t even scared; Microsoft reported that Office revenue, in 2017, reached $29 billion.
Google, on the other hand, is updating how Gmail looks and adding many features to go with it.
Alphabet Inc’s Google announced on Wednesday its first Gmail redesign since 2013.
What might put Google in the lead?
Google is successfully catering to 1.4 billion people each month.
On its redesign, the company says that it was the most expensive overhaul and took two years to adopt security and offline functionality.
Google had previously updated its bundle of Google applications, in addition to adding instant messaging and spreadsheets.
But this Gmail update marks a first for Google as the most extensive update that it has ever created for its Google apps.
It said that it restructured email storage databases, combined three dualling systems for syncing messages across devices and upgraded the computers’ foundation for the service.
“We have switched our processing chip to our very own Tensor, adding smart replies; previously seen in the Android app.”
“This is an entire rewrite of our flagship, most-used product,” said Jacob Bank, Lead Product Manager for Gmail.
Google refused to specify costs associated with the redesign, but parent Alphabet reported Monday that first-quarter capital expenditures nearly tripled year-over-year to $7.3 billion.
Chief Financial Officer at Google, Ruth Porat, told analysts that half of the spending resulted from hardware purchases to support expanding the use of machine learning, which describes automated programs that can, among other things, identify spam and predict which emails users would find most important.
What has Google changed?
“Nudges” and a higher bar for new-mail notifications round out Google’s revised sales pitch.
Estimates by Google say that nudges will lead 8% of business users each week to remember to follow-up on something important.
Cosmetic changes brought to Gmail’s website are reminiscent to Microsoft’s Office; placing Google’s calendar, tasks and notes service (Google Keep) on the same page as emails.
Testers had “neutral to positive to very positive” reviews on the new look.
But the most significant change is to the increased security.
Google said that the overhaul was requested by users primarily to provide offline access to up to 90 days of emails for users who turn on the feature.
The changes also fulfill another top demand for business executives, message expiration.
Users can now send each other emails that have an expiry date, after which the email will no longer be available.
Users who enable a “confidential” option when sending an email can time-limit its access to recipients to reduce the chances of an unauthorized person reading the e-mail. \
E-mails can now be locked behind a password, and recipients will have to enter a code sent over SMS to access the email.
The new setting does not override corporate email retention policies or present further obstacles to law enforcement.
New Information Rights Management controls make it possible to disable the option to forward, download, copy or print the emails that you send.
Lastly, security warnings within Gmail have been revamped to make the threat more evident while opening potentially risky emails.
The Gmail Android and iOS applications include the same features as the web-app redesign, with “Mark unread from here,” a feature which lets you mark an email thread as partially unread.
Business users are getting the new Gmail starting today.
Personal users will start seeing the option to opt-in from the Settings menu on the top right soon.