The formatting tools in the Gmail app for Android have long been a tad shallow, quite frankly. You couldn’t underline phrases or italicize words, for instance, or even change the background color of text — those tasks had to be performed on the Web. But in news that persnickety writers and English professors everywhere will no doubt welcome, that’s changing. Today, Google released an updated version of Gmail that adds the aforementioned rich text editing, in addition to an “instant RSVP” feature.
Within the updated version of Gmail, editing the appearance of text couldn’t be simpler. Once inside Gmail’s compose interface, highlighting the character, word, or sentence you wish to edit summons a new “format” option. Tapping on it logically presents you with new array of transformations — bold, underline, italicize, font color, and font background — that can be applied to text new and old.
Separately, Gmail for Android’s getting another feature: instant RSVPs for Google Calendar and Microsoft Exchange. The new Gmail automatically embeds three RSVP response options, “Yes,” “Maybe,” and “No,” within emails that contain calendar invitations. Tapping on the event opens your itinerary for the given day and time, while selecting “Yes” adds the event to your calendar.
The Gmail enhancements are the latest in a series over the past few months. In January, Inbox, Google’s task-oriented alternative client for Gmail, gained an improved search interface that quickly surfaces information like flight numbers, addresses, event times, phone numbers, and bills. In December of last year, Inbox gained the ability to consolidate emails related to flights and hotel bookings into convenient, glanceable “Trip Bundles.” And last November, the Inbox team introduced Smart Reply, a feature that uses artificial intelligence to generate appropriate email replies.
Why all the attention? The answer’s simple: critical mass. During Google’s most recent earnings call in early February, CEO Sundar Pichai revealed that Gmail’s reached over a billion users — a lot of potential eyeballs for the ads which the company serves through email.
The new version of Gmail is scheduled to hit the Google Play Store sometime today.