woman reading the newspaper
PHOTO: Naren Morum

Google is reportedly giving the web version of Gmail a major redesign. Mountain View, Calif.-based Google hasn't yet made an official announcement about the release, but TechCrunch shared early previews of the new inbox as well as reporting that G Suite users received a letter earlier this month saying the new look will be available in the coming weeks, with the general Gmail user groups updated later.

According to the message, the redesign will include a number of new mobile features, along with other features that have been mooted in the past like snoozing emails, offline support and — one that is likely to be a big favorite among IT administrators — self-destructing emails.

Other improvements include Google Calendar access directly from the Gmail interface, as well as an eventual update which will allow users to store email so that they are available offline as Google slowly phases out Chrome Apps. Finally, while the Android and iOS clients have both benefitted from Material Design upgrades, the web client’s interface hasn’t been updated for years. This time, however, it will get a major design overhaul.

However, it is the ‘self-destruct’ feature that has been receiving the most attention. In the compose window of Gmail, recipients will see a small lock icon named Confidential Mode which indicates the recipient won’t be able to forward email content, copy and paste, download or print the email.

This is not the first time Google has improved its service. As early as 2014 it added Inbox, which allowed users to streamline their inbox and ensure the most important emails landed in the right place. Microsoft responded with the addition of Focused Inbox to Outlook. In the end, it is users that win and will continue to do so as both Google and Microsoft battle it out for supremacy in yet another area of competition in the productivity space.

Dropbox Boosts Collaboration with Showcase

San Francisco-based Dropbox  may be worth $10 billion, but it still has to keep its users happy. As part of that effort, this week the company pushed Showcase into general availability for all Dropbox Business Advanced and Enterprise teams.

Dropbox launched Showcase last fall as a visual portfolio-sharing tool that made it possible to share a group of files, including large images, headers and rich previews, instead of providing static links. Now, on the basis of user feedback it is also adding improvements.

“Over the past few months, we’ve been gathering feedback from Dropbox Business teams with early access to Showcase. Their input has helped us refine Showcase and improve it with the new functionality we’re introducing for both team admins and showcase creators," the company said in a statement. The new functionality allows administrators to now manage team-wide settings, enable external sharing, and set default download permissions for viewers of team’s showcases. Among the other additions is drag-and-drop uploads, recipient previews and the ability to reuse old showcases.

Dropbox is just one of many file sync and share applications available on the market at the moment. What makes the top offerings stand out is their ease of use and speed. With Showcase, Dropbox is adding another string to its enterprise bow, making it a lot more attractive to major companies.

Cisco Introduces WebEx Teams

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco was also busy this week, with the announcement it would fold its collaboration platform Spark into WebEx to create a new ecosystem of services. Spark is Cisco's cloud-based collaboration suite for teams which provides tools to create, meet, message, call, whiteboard and share. WebEx is Cisco’s on-demand collaboration, meeting, web conferencing and video conferencing application.

The result is a new WebEx meetings application and a WebEx-enabled Spark application — now called WebEx Teams. WebEx Teams pulls together all of the collaboration features in Spark and puts them alongside features from the WebEx conferencing platform, such as whiteboarding, persistent messaging, simple guest access, and content sharing.

Cisco explained the move in a statement, stating that pulling the two together would result in a total integration of technology across platforms, complete with a common cloud back end and user experience. The statement continued, “We are putting all our award-winning video devices onto this newly converged platform. And we’re adding a new hardware device that turns any work space with a TV into a WebEx room. We didn’t stop there. We’re making everything easier to buy. And we’re continuing to apply machine learning and artificial intelligence that will dramatically improve meetings as we know them today.” 

The result is any space with a TV will be turned into a WebEx room. Whether any of the other players in the space like Microsoft with its Skype for Business can equal this in terms of computing power and functionality remains to be seen.

Akumina Adds Native Mobile

Meanwhile, Nashua, N.H.-based digital workplace platform provider Akumina has upgraded its product portfolio with the introduction of features that deliver support for native enterprise mobile apps. These new enhancements enable employees to access appropriate enterprise applications and information at any time, in any language, and on any device — either through traditional responsive design or via native mobile app solutions on the Apple iOS and Google Android platforms.

The Akumina digital workplace solution is built on top of Office 365 and ships with deep integrations to applications like Salesforce.com, Workday, Oracle Cloud, SAP, ServiceNow and others.

AccuSystems Upgrades DMS

Finally this week, Pueblo, Colo.-based AccuSystems has introduced AccuAccount 2018, the latest version of its document management system, which comes with a newly designed interface. The new UI  aims to make it easier to manage customer information, scan and index important documents.

AccuAccount is designed specifically to support the management of commercial loan portfolios and credit files. It provides integration to more than 30 core banking systems. It also simplifies document tracking and exception management, eliminating the need for manual ticklers and spreadsheets.