Gmail: New look appearing for more people; people didn’t ask for it

The new UI lines up Spaces, Gmail, Chat, and Meet in their side rail. In February, Google started rolling out an updated user interface for Gmail that pulls Meet, Chat, and Spaces closer and involves more of its Material You styling effects.

In addition, starting today, it’s evolving to opt-out instead of opt-in, so your account will switch to the new view by default relatively soon.

It’s not a massive change, but as Google transitions through its current flavor-of-the-week messaging app and incorporates its Workspace suite into a better competitor for Office, this puts more focus on the updated experiences.

If you can’t tell what’s different here, the updated UI collects buttons for Mail, Meet, Spaces, and Chat into one list at the top of the left rail instead of showing several conversations from each one in an index. However, they’re still easily accessible without having everything on screen at once. You can fast jump into a conversation in any section as a list will pop out when you mouse over its icon.

And if you want to have one distinct form of communication on screen without the others (like Gmail), it’s a little more comfortable to do that since Chat, and the rest aren’t listed under your inboxes and labels anymore.

According to Google, you can choose which apps are included in the Quick Settings menu, where you can swap back to the old look if you prefer. Unlike the usual 15-day rollout for new features, Google says this one is an “extended rollout,” so while it’s coming to Workspace and personal Gmail accounts alike, it could take longer than a couple of weeks for your interface to change over on its own. Nevertheless, if you want to try it, you should be able to opt-in (and back out) from the quick settings menu right now, as long as you’ve already switched to Chat from Hangouts and positioned Chat in the left-hand menu.

Gmail is a free email service supplied by Google. As of 2019, it had 1.5 Bn active users globally. A user generally accesses Gmail in a web browser or the authorized mobile app. Google also supports using email clients via the POP and IMAP protocols.

At its launch in 2004, Gmail delivered a storage capacity of one gigabyte per user, significantly higher than its competitors offered. Today, the service arrives with 15 gigabytes of storage. Users can accept emails up to 50 megabytes, including attachments, while they can send emails up to 25 megabytes. Users can insert files at Google Drive into the note to dispatch larger files. Gmail contains a search-oriented interface and a “conversation view” equivalent to an Internet forum. The service is notable among website creators for its early adoption of Ajax.

Google’s mail servers automatically scan emails for numerous purposes, including filtering spam and malware and adding context-sensitive advertisements next to emails. However, privacy advocates have significantly criticized this advertising practice due to concerns over unlimited data retention, ease of monitoring by third parties, and users of other email providers not agreeing to the policy upon sending emails to Gmail addresses. Google could change its policies to decrease privacy by integrating the information with other Google data usage.

The company has been the matter of lawsuits involving the issues. Google has declared that email users must “necessarily expect” their emails to be subject to automated processing. It claims that the service withholds from displaying ads next to potentially sensitive messages, like those mentioning race, health, religion, sexual orientation, or financial statements. In June 2017, Google announced the end of the use of contextual Gmail content for advertising objectives, relying instead on data gathered from the use of its other services.

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The Gmail user interface initially varied from other webmail systems by grouping several messages between two or more people onto a single page, emphasizing search and conversation threading of emails, an approach later copied by its competitors. In addition, Gmail’s user interface designer, Kevin Fox, intended users to handle as if they were always on one page and just switching things on that page, rather than navigating other places.

Gmail’s interface also uses ‘labels’ (tags) that replace the conventional folders and deliver:

  • A more flexible method of collecting emails.
  • Filters for automatically organizing, deleting, or delivering incoming emails to other addresses.
  • Priority markers for automatically labeling messages as ‘important.’

In November 2011, Google began moving out a redesign of its interface that “simplified” the countenance of Gmail into a more minimalist strategy to provide a more uniform look throughout its products and services as part of a prevailing Google design change. Majorly redesigned elements included:

  • A streamlined conversation view.
  • Configurable information density.
  • New higher-quality themes.
  • A resizable navigation bar with always-visible tags and contacts.
  • Better search.

Users could preview the new interface design for months before the official release and revert to the old interface till March 2012, when Google suspended the ability to revert and completed the transition to the latest design for all users.

Google updated the Gmail inbox with tabs that allow the application to categorize the user’s emails. The five tabs are Social, Promotions, Updates, Primary, and Forums. In addition to customization possibilities, the entire update can be disabled, allowing users to return to the traditional inbox structure.

In April 2018, Google submitted a new web UI for Gmail. The recent redesign follows Google’s Material Design, and changes in the user interface include using Google’s Product Sans font. Other updates include a Confidential mode, which permits the sender to set an expiration date for a sensitive message or cancel it altogether, integrated rights management, and two-factor authentication.

On November 16, 2020, Google announced new settings for intelligent features and personalization in Gmail. Under the new settings, users were granted control of their data in Gmail, Chat, and Meet, delivering intelligent features like Smart Compose and Smart Reply. On April 6, 2021, Google rolled out Google Chat and Room feature to all Gmail users.

Spam filter: Gmail’s spam filtering features a community-driven approach. When any user keeps an email as spam, this delivers information to help the system identify similar future messages for all Gmail users. In addition, the spam filtering banners were redesigned with more comprehensive and bolder lettering.

Gmail Labs: The Gmail Labs feature, submitted on June 5, 2008, lets users test new or experimental features of Gmail. Users can selectively enable or disable Labs features and provide feedback about each. In addition, it allows Gmail engineers to obtain user input about new features to improve and assess their popularity. Popular features, like the “Undo Send” alternative, often “graduate” from Gmail Labs to become a formal setting in Gmail. All Labs attributes are experimental and are subject to termination at any time.