We tested all the cool new features in Gmail

Google recently unveiled its new-look Gmail, adding a number of new features and design changes.

Gmail users now have access to powerful tools such as better-integrated Google apps and improved automatic responses to messages.

Data security is also a major focus of the new Gmail design, with the platform offering clearer security warnings and supporting more security features.

Users can upgrade to the new Gmail by clicking the Settings cog icon on the top-right of their Gmail page, and selecting “Try the new Gmail”.

We tried out the new features available in Gmail, from its improved interface to automatic replies, as detailed below.

Smart replies

The Gmail web platform now supports smart replies, which automatically detects whether an email contains requests such as meetings or simple queries.

Gmail then automatically serves up a selection of responses to the user, who can select a response to quickly compose a reply.

Sending a test message from my one Gmail account to the other, I was able to replicate the smart reply behaviour, with it offering three responses to a generic request.

The message “Want to meet up on Friday” was sent, to which the following automatic replies were suggested:

  • Sure, what time?
  • Sure!
  • No, I can’t.

After selecting a response, you can still compose and edit your reply as normal. The smart reply simply acts as an easier way to fire off a quick response to simple mails.

New Gmail smart replies

Interface tweaks

Gmail’s new interface is designed to improve productivity and accessibility, and includes a number of new features for improving inbox navigation and interaction.

The directory sidebar on the left can now be retracted by clicking the three-bars icon to the left of the Gmail logo, allowing users more space to view subject lines and email content.

User can also add or remove email categories, which intelligently sort mails into different tabs – displayed at the top of the inbox – depending on their source and content.

Gmail also features integrated Google applications on the right sidebar of the email interface.

Google Calendar, Tasks, and Keep are all integrated into the platform and can be synced automatically with email content.

An image of the new Gmail interface, running in Dark theme, with sidebars minimised is shown below.

New Gmail minimised sidebars

Access without opening

The new Gmail design brings inline interactions to the overhauled inbox, allowing users to interact with individual mails by hovering over them.

This brings up interaction icons which can be used to archive, delete, mark as read, or snooze the message in question.

The Snooze function will bring the mail to your attention again after a set period of time, as specified by the user.

Mails with attachments also display the attached files in the inbox, allowing you to download or view attachments without opening the corresponding mail.

An image of the interaction icons brought up when hovering over a mail in the inbox is shown below.

New Gmail inbox interaction

Confidential mode

Confidential mode is the most impressive part of the new Gmail design, but it has unfortunately not rolled out for all users yet.

The mode can be toggled by cliking a lock icon in the bottom-right of the message composer window, and allows you to send mails which expire or are locked with an SMS passcode.

When sending mails with an expiry date, senders can also choose to revoke access to the mail at will.

After the mail has expired or the sender has revoked access, the receiver will not be able to view the content or attachments of the original mail.

The SMS passcode requirement allows for an extra measure of security by only allowing access to an email’s content when an SMS passcode is inputted.

While it is currently not available as part of the initial redesign launch, Google said it plans to roll out confidential mode in the near future.


Now read: New Gmail vs Old Gmail – And how you can upgrade

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We tested all the cool new features in Gmail