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Google announced that it’s testing new features for its email service, Gmail. The plans would allow emails to be more than static threads of text, but living pages that can update automatically.
The Washington Post’s homepage loads in less than two seconds, in part because of Google’s AMP project (WSJ) which strips away unnecessary code so that articles and other content can appear more quickly. The AMP protocol has been adopted by large swathes of publishers, as Google claims there are now over 4 billion AMP web pages published. Now, this technology is being expanded into email.
Google’s new project is geared at companies who rely on email, such as newsletters, to provide real-time information to their subscribers. Instead of waiting for another email, or hoping the user clicks on a link, companies will be able to provide updated news within the original message. For example, an airline could show real-time flight information in a booking confirmation email instead of requiring the user to click a link and visit the airline’s website. The new feature is currently being tested by Priceline, Pinterest and Doodle, according to the blog post.
Immediately the tech press and developers reacted to the announcement, claiming that Google’s move could mark a major change in email infrastructure. Email is one of the oldest protocols of the web, going back decades, and not much of it has changed over that time period. Critics argued that email’s simplicity and static nature was its major strength, and if emails were to become dynamic, users would have to change their mindset. No longer would an email be a valid “paper trail” showing conversations as they originally were. Others argued against Google’s control over the AMP project and that by controlling which elements could and could not go into the new email format, the company was exerting too much control over a basic component of the Internet.
The “AMP for Email” specifications were released, and Google announced it intends to bring support to Gmail by the end of 2018.
Help us report on Google’s plans. Add information through EDIT STORY or offer suggestions through TALK.