Google's latest big update to its free email service, announced last week, introduces a number of new features including an automated email scan powered by Google Assistant. The new feature is designed to automatically analyze a user's messages, smart nudges and replies, and high-priority notifications.
The Mountain View, California-based search giant kicked off the rollout of the major redesign to Gmail last Wednesday, giving a whole new look to the app's Android, iOS, and desktop versions with a large focus on functionality. The updated Gmail includes smart replies initially for desktops. The update also adds high-priority notifications for both the Gmail mobile app on Android and iOS, identifying important messages and choosing which email notification to send to the user based on its importance. The ad-supported email service will also begin giving reminders to users to respond to certain messages if the app detects emails that have been left unattended for a specific period. While the new email scan feature may frighten privacy advocates, Google is trying to assuage concerns by allowing users to disable the scans, which makes the functionality basically an optional feature. Additionally, Google also assures users that it will not use those email scans to serve targeted ads like it used to do in recent times. Nevertheless, there's no word from the internet giant as to the length of time during which it stores the scans in its servers.
The purpose of the automated email scan is to enhance the user experience and security for users, according to Google. It's worth pointing out that although Google provides control to users so that they can switch off the smart reply, high-priority notifications, or smart nudge features, there is no way to disable the security features. Google has been using machine learning to help combat phishing and other malicious forms of attacks for quite some time as well by scanning email attachments for possible inclusions of malware. The new Gmail feature is on top of other new capabilities that come with the update such as the ability to automatically synchronize tasks between mobile devices and desktops using the Google Tasks app for Android. There's also a new snooze button for delaying emails and the ability to open attachments without expanding conversations or email chains.