To keep up with Microsoft, Google plans changes to Gmail

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Google is updating its web-based email platform Gmail for the first time since 2013 to implement stronger security controls and offline functionality in an attempt to compete with Microsoft Outlook, Reuters reports.

The internet giant said it restructured its email storage databases, brought together three systems to sync messages across devices and upgraded the computers that power the service. Google also started using its self-developed Tenor processing chips to add smart-assistant features such as suggested replies and reminders for forgotten messages. Additional design features, like the Google calendar, tasks and note-taking services, have been added to the same page as emails.

Another new Gmail element is message expiration, which allows senders to select a time-limit to access the email as well as require a one-time passcode sent to their phones to read it. This option will not override corporate policies.

Although Google did not specify the amount it spent on the Gmail overhaul, its parent company Alphabet reported first quarter capital expenditures of $7.3 billion, nearly triple that of one year prior, and Google's CFO Ruth Porat said about half of the spending contributed to hardware that supports machine learning, which Gmail could use to spot spam and predict emails users may find most important, according to Reuters.

Nearly 1.4 million people use Gmail each month, yet analysts estimate the G Suite recorded $2 billion in revenue last year, which is still 10 times behind Office.

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