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Gmail for Android can finally swipe and pinch-to-zoom

Google has announced that its Gmail app for Android will be getting some added tweaks and fresh features. This 4.2.1 update includes new abilities for Gmail subscribers, such as pinch-to-zoom functionality and gesture controls that allow for more intuitive navigation.

Android users on Google’s e-mail platform can also re-size emails to fit the screen of their device. This new auto-fit function can be found under Settings > General. The added gesture controls make it possible to swipe left or right to archive messages directly from Gmail’s inbox. To do this, head over to Settings > General settings > Swiping conversation list in the main menu.

Google also added a new function that makes it easier to view attached photos instantly when opening an email. Image attachments are now displayed as thumbnails, and tapping on the thumbnail will launch a gallery mode where users can swipe through all of the attached photos. In addition, Android patrons can now attach videos recorded on their device to emails via Gmail.

These features are available for any version of Android running 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher. However, this means that a large chunk of Android users may be excluded from using Google’s refined Gmail app. According to statistics released by Google in the beginning of November, Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) is still the most widely used operating system. Android 4.0 only accounted for 25.8 percent of the Android market share as of one month ago, and Jelly Bean was only found on 2.7 percent of devices.

Google’s unveiling of these new Gmail features comes about one week after Microsoft made some announcements about its rival Outlook email service. The Redmond, Wash.-based company revealed that Outlook has reached a user base of more than 25 million subscribers, adding that Android will be getting its own Outlook app in the Google Play Store. Microsoft made it clear that it was attempting to coerce some users to ditch Gmail in favor of its own email platform, as the company’s David Law wrote the following in a Microsoft Office blog post:

“We continue to listen to feedback on what enthusiasts want next – including making the switch from Gmail even easier – and build those features,” he wrote.

Both Google’s Gmail update and Microsoft’s Outlook app are available in the Google Play Store for download. Google did not disclose any details on whether or not the update will launch on iOS or any other platforms.

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