Google Gmail Gets A Makeover, Boosts Anti-Phishing Capabilities

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Google slapped a new coat of paint onto its Gmail cloud e-mail service, and along with the aesthetic makeover, Google also increased Gmail's anti-phishing capabilities to protect users from getting scammed.

According to Google, Gmail's interface had become too "cluttered and complex" and that needed to change.

"That's one of the reasons we're embarking on a series of interface updates to help strip out unnecessary clutter and make Gmail as beautiful as it is powerful," Jason Cornwell, Google User Experience Designer, write in a blog post giving a sneak preview of the refreshed Gmail. "This is part of a Google-wide effort to bring you an experience that's more focused, elastic and effortless across all of our products. The changes are not going to happen all at once. We know that you love and care about Gmail as much as we do, and we'll be working on these upgrades gradually over the next few months to allow plenty of time to understand and incorporate your feedback into the evolving design."

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The first change is a pair of new themes that Google and Gmail are releasing to users. The new themes, available in the Themes tab in Gmail Settings are called "Preview" and "Preview (Dense)." The new themes are minimalist, more modern versions of the original Gmail interface, making the Gmail inbox look more like Google's search page. Google went with two themes to accommodate different screen sizes and user preferences.

Google said some Google Labs features may look a little strange in the new Gmail themes, but Google is fixing those in coming months. And more changes are on the way in coming months.

"You can also expect some updated themes that embody the same design principles but are better suited to working in a dark environment, use a different color palate, or include the illustrations that we know many of you love to see around your inbox," Cornwell wrote.

Cornwell added that along with Google Gmail, Google Calendar is also getting a new look, which will appear automatically in the next few days.

Google Gmail's interface facelift was accompanied by an update to Gmail's anti-phishing capabilities. With the new anti-phishing feature, Gmail will automatically display more information about the origin of certain messages that users receive so they are better informed and can protect themselves from getting tricked. For example, if someone fakes a message from a sender a user trusts, like a bank, users can more easily see that the message is not really from that bank.

Essentially, Google now displays the sender's e-mail address for some messages, which will better help a user recognize a suspicious message. It will display the address for all senders to whom the recipient has not sent messages or are not in the recipient's contact list. Additionally, messages from third-parties like marketing firms and retailers now also display the sending address. Google said that Gmail will also automatically detect suspicious messages and display a warning when it looks like someone may have spoofed a Gmail address.