Gmail has recently introduced a brand new redesign. While you can disable or ignore most of the new features, Gmail has started resurfacing old unanswered emails with a suggestion that you should reply. And this is what it looks like:
The orange text immediately grabs your attention. By bumping the email thread to the top of your inbox, Gmails also breaks the chronological order of your inbox.
Gmail is also making a judgement by telling you that maybe you should have replied and you’ve been procrastinating. Social networks already bombard us constantly with awful content that makes us sad or angry. Your email inbox shouldn’t make you feel guilty or stressed.
Even if the suggestions can be accurate, it’s a bit creepy, it’s poorly implemented and it makes you feel like you’re no longer in control of your inbox.
There’s a reason why Gmail lets you disable all the smart features. Some users don’t want smart categories, important emails first and smart reply suggestions. Arguably, the only smart feature everyone needs is the spam filter.
A pure chronological feed of your email messages is incredibly valuable as well. That’s why many Instagram users are still asking for a chronological feed. Sure, algorithmic feeds can lead to more engagement and improved productivity. Maybe Google conducted some tests and concluded that you end up answering more emails if you let Gmail do its thing.
But you may want to judge the value of each email without an algorithmic ranking.
VCs could spot the next big thing without any bias. Journalists could pay attention to young and scrappy startups as much as the new electric scooter startup in San Francisco. Universities could give a grant to students with unconventional applications. The HR department of your company could look at all applications without following Google’s order.
When the Gmail redesign started leaking, a colleague of mine said “I look forward to digging through settings to figure out how to turn this off.” And the good news is that you can turn it off.
There are now two options to disable nudges in the settings on the web version of Gmail. You can tick off the boxes “Suggest emails to reply to” and “Suggest emails to follow up on” if you don’t want to see this orange text ever again. But those features should have never been enabled by default in the first place.