Google to launch self-destructing emails in new Gmail

Gmail.com is doing a major first redesign in seven years, the new look will introduce a raft of features.  With the new side panels for Google Calendar, Google Keep, and Google Tasks, inplace, the latest new feature is the long over due self-destructing emails.

“We’re working on some major updates to Gmail (they’re still in draft phase),” a Google representative said in an email. “We need a bit more time to compose ourselves, so can’t share anything yet — archive this for now, and we’ll let you know when it’s time to hit send.”

A TechCrunch report details screenshots of 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.

In the compose screen, there’s a tiny lock icon called “confidential mode”. It says that the recipient won’t be able to forward email content, copy and paste, download or print the email.

You can configure the expiration date so that your email disappears after 1 week, 1 month, multiple years, etc. You can also ask your recipient to confirm their identity with a passcode sent via text message. This sounds like a great way to associate email addresses with phone numbers and improve Google’s ads. (Update: a Google spokesperson reminded us that Google stopped scanning Gmail for ad personalization last year.)

When our tipster clicked on “Learn more”, it opened Google’s help articles but the page was not found. The feature isn’t ready for prime time just yet.

On the recipient’s side, the person was using the existing version of Gmail and received a link to view the confidential email. The recipient had to log into their Google account once again to view the content. When viewing the confidential message, copy and paste as well as the print feature were disabled — it didn’t stop our tipster from taking a screenshot of the email though.

It’s unclear if this feature is going to be compatible with non-Gmail users as the company asks you to confirm your Google account to view the confidential message. It’s also unclear if the integration is going to work better in the future when everybody is using the new Gmail.