Gmail on the web is getting a big update in the coming weeks with a new design and features, but Google is also introducing a new Confidential Mode. The Verge revealed the new design earlier this week, alongside features like quick reply to emails, the ability to snooze emails until later, and a new sidebar to place calendar appointments side by side with messages. Weve now learned Google will also introduce Confidential Mode, which lets Gmail users stop recipients from forwarding certain emails, or restricts the ability to copy, download, or print them. Google will also let Gmail users require a passcode to open emails, which will be generated via SMS, or set an expiration date on sent emails. The features are very similar to some found in Microsofts full Outlook application, and Microsoft is also adding the ability to restrict emails on its Outlook.com service. These features will largely appeal to businesses that want more control over how emails are used by recipients, but they wont stop people from taking a screenshot or a photo of an email. Google has confirmed its Gmail update is coming soon, and a message to an early access program revealed that it should be available in the coming weeks. Googles I/ O developer conference starts on May 8th this year, and its likely that this new Gmail design will be part of the show, alongside some updates to other Google web services.
Google is working on a brand new design for the web version of Gmail. Yesterday, I published screenshots of the new design. TechCrunchs tipster Chaim also discovered an interesting new feature in the new Gmail. Youll soon be able to send expiring emails. Working on an email service is hard as you have to be compatible with all sorts of email providers and email clients. But it doesnt seem to be stopping Google as the company is now evolving beyond the simple POP3/IMAP/SMTP protocols. Based on those screenshots, expiring emails work pretty much like expiring emails in ProtonMail. After some time, the email becomes unreadable. In the compose screen, theres a tiny lock icon called confidential mode. It says that the recipient wont be able to forward email content, copy and paste, download or print the email. You can configure the expiration date so that your email disappears after 1 week, 1 month, multiple years, etc. You can also ask your recipient to confirm their identity with a passcode sent via text message. This sounds like a great way to associate email addresses with phone numbers and improve Googles ads. ( Update: a Google spokesperson reminded us that Google stopped scanning Gmail for ad personalization last year. ) When our tipster clicked on Learn more, it opened Googles help articles but the page was not found. The feature isnt ready for prime time just yet. On the recipients side, the person was using the existing version of Gmail and received a link to view the confidential email. The recipient had to log into their Google account once again to view the content. When viewing the confidential message, copy and paste as well as the print feature were disabled — it didnt stop our tipster from taking a screenshot of the email though. Its unclear if this feature is going to be compatible with non-Gmail users as the company asks you to confirm your Google account to view the confidential message. Its also unclear if the integration is going to work better in the future when everybody is using the new Gmail. For instance, when a ProtonMail user sends an expiring message to another ProtonMail user, it looks like a regular email in the inbox. After the message expires, it is automatically deleted from the inbox and the senders outbox. In Gmails current implementation, it sounds like Google simply generates an email with a link. The message behind the link disappears after a while, but not necessarily the intermediate email. Its also worth noting that Google doesnt mention end-to-end encryption anywhere. A confidential message doesnt have to be encrypted. Its likely that Google could still see the content of that message and comply with warrants. Once again, Google said that the new Gmail is going to come out in a few weeks. Confidential emails could be released at the same time or at a later date.