Gmail.com is soon getting its first redesign in seven years, and with that new look comes some new features. There has been new side panels for Google Calendar, Google Keep, and Google Tasks, and now we’re getting word of another new feature: self-destructing emails.
TechCrunch has screenshots detailing the feature from the pre-release version of Gmail. In the compose window, there’s a new lock icon called “Confidential Mode.” When clicked, a message pops up saying, “Options to forward, download or copy this email’s contents and attachments will be disabled.” The sender can then pick an expiration date for the email, and optionally require an SMS passcode to open the email. The compose window also switches to a blue color scheme, letting the user know they’re not just sending a normal message.
Trying to inject a new feature into the email standard is a tough nut to crack. Since confidential emails are not a standard email feature, how can they work for people who aren’t Gmail users? Or what happens when you access Gmail through POP/IMAP/SMTP and aren’t using the official client? Google’s solution for this seems to be to send a link. “This message was sent with Gmail’s confidential mode” the sent email reads. “You can open it by clicking this link.”
TechCrunch’s test email was sent from a new Gmail user to a user on the old Gmail client, so a link was formed. Hopefully, if both people are on the redesigned version of Gmail, the message will just appear, and the Gmail client can handle the confidentiality requirements in the background.
Google says Gmail.com’s big redesign will be out “in the coming weeks,” and we hope to hear more about it at Google I/O.