Gmail users can now control who reads their messages and when, as a security revamp heads the new-look product.

For the first time, the new gmail now comes with ‘confidential mode’, allowing users to protect sensitive information with an expiration date on messages.

Although it is called ‘confidential mode’, it isn’t really.

Rather, it is only the content of the message that becomes inaccessible after the set expiration date, while the timestamp, subject line and sender will remain.

Additional authentication via text message can also be requested by the sender to further protect data or if it suspected an account has been hacked.

Confidential mode also allows users to revoke a previously sent message.

Vice President of Product Management at Google, David Thacker outlined some additional new security features.

“Built-in Information Rights Management (IRM) controls also allow you to remove the option to forward, copy, download or print messages,” he said. “This helps reduce the risk of confidential information being accidentally shared with the wrong people.”

How Gmail 'Confidential' mode works. Source: Google

AI technology has also been deployed to help users stay on top of their inbox.

‘Nudging’ will proactively remind you to respond to certain message after a few days, while the ‘Smart Reply’ feature will create automated responses. Previously, Smart Reply was available only on the mobile version of Gmail.

Gmail will now recommend when to unsubscribe from mailing lists, based on the emails you actually read.

G Suite vs Office

It comes as Google continues its fightback against Microsoft in the business space.

Although most changes will be available to users of the free consumer version, the revamp is primarily aimed at boosting the capabilities of Google’s business productivity software, G Suite.

There are currently 4 million businesses using G Suite, compared to the 120 million Office 365 commercial users.

Gmail’s new sidebar, which now integrates contacts, calendar and inbox, is very similar to Office’s interface and marks Google’s intention to grow G Suite as a viable business.

The new Gmail is available for commercial and personal use now, with confidential mode to be rolled out in the coming weeks.