Disappearing Email and Security Nets in the Gmail Early Adopter Program

Google, one of the Top 10 in Reuter Thomson’s Global Technology Leaders of 2018 is innovative and as expected, answered the call for better control over security issues post-Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. But is the much-hyped disappearing email really new? To be honest, this feature which some quarters hailed as millennial makeover is interesting but not original. Apart from being around in Outlook, Snapchat and Android for years, disappearing email was something that was possible in Google itself circa 2012. Google did a Houdini here since this DIY version is no longer possible with a past revamp of the “tool” in Google Docs. Currently, the script in “tools” is abbreviated and is not as easily changed as in the following video:

Currently, Gmail has around 1.4 Billion users and some of them could be enjoying the benefits of confidential mail if we are to believe Google’s announcement last April 25. This option prevents recipients from copying, forwarding, and downloading mail that has been sent – something that will eventually be circumvented by the unscrupulous but a welcome change nonetheless. It gives you leverage over how long you want the message to remain in the recipient’s Inbox before disappearing into thin air or becoming inaccessible. In addition, passwords (SMS and non-SMS)  can be enabled for individual mail.

The implications are alarming as it could be a two-way sword. If you are at the receiving end, there would be no proof to show and information can’t be readily referenced. A question of ethics arises because when mail is sent, who owns it – the sender or the receiver? At present, the confidential mode does not yet acknowledge this shared ownership, but in the future, can we expect Gmail to inform recipients that the message will disappear and ask their consent?

Google just gave Gmail a huge makeover — here is what’s new from CNBC.

The new Gmail also comes with two-factor authentication and better phishing safeguards. A most useful feature is the “Task Integration” feature which enables smoother workflow and better productivity (all to-dos in one place); something extremely utilitarian especially for business or enterprise clients who tend to use other apps like Trello, Asana or Basecamp for better project management.

Don’t get too excited about taking it for a spin as it’s not yet available for everyone. Google does promise a global rollout soon but Administrators of G-Suite for businesses or schools can already opt-in and activate the changes from the Admin Console.

“Instead of getting a notification every time a new email hits your inbox, you can now tell your Gmail app to ping you only for the most important 3 percent of your incoming messages.” — CNBC

The new Gmail is a boon for consumers worried about the sanctity of data and how their private information is being used. It will also work smarter, giving you the option to prioritize emails – plus getting Smart Replies on your desktop. On May 8, there will be a Google’s I/O developer conference  (as the heels of F8) so we can expect more interesting revelations. Though the changes are belated, the new Gmail has cool options worth trying out.

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Mary Byron

Mary is a writer, researcher, and blogger. She was an educator, journalist, columnist and TV host. She was the president of the IT Schools Network and was a promoter of the BPO industry. She loves to cook, bake, paint and is passionate about living healthy the techie way. View all posts by Mary Byron