The new Gmail steals some great ideas and invents some fresh ones

From PC World: In April, Google launched its first major Gmail redesign since 2013, and in a sense it was an acknowledgement of all the ways Google had fallen behind.

With 1.4 billion users logging into Gmail at least once per month, the service has become resistant to change. This in turn has been a boon to the email software business, allowing third-party apps like Mailbox, Spark, Astro, and Newton to invent new features on a more regular basis. Several of Gmail’s most notable new features come straight from these apps, and from the broader software world in general. And while some have previously appeared in Google’s more forward-thinking Inbox app, others are new to Gmail entirely.

But as Gmail gets with the times, it’s also introducing some new ideas that haven’t yet occurred to its competitors. The result is a much-needed game of feature leapfrog, which will hopefully compel other email apps to invent even more ways to make email less painful.

Gmail also supports Google’s new Smart Compose feature in experimental mode, which makes AI-based suggestions sentence-by-sentence while writing fuller emails. Smart Compose anywhere near as helpful as Smart Reply in its early days though.

The makers of other email apps might feel dismayed now that some of their best ideas are part of Gmail proper. But if history is any guide, they’ll have until the year 2023 or so to figure out where to take things next.

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