Google is making email live and interactive

We tend to think of email as a static, unchanging format. Once you hit ‘send,’ what goes out is exactly what the recipient will see. But what if your email was a living, breathing thing that updated automatically? On Tuesday, Google announced it was moving towards that future, debuting Accelerated Mobile Pages for Gmail that will make email a real-time, live experience for users.

“With AMP for Email, you’ll be able to quickly take actions like submit an RSVP to an event, schedule an appointment, or fill out a questionnaire right from the email message,” Gmail product manager Aakash Sahney said in the announcement. “AMP for Email will also make it possible for information to easily kept up-to-date, so emails never get stale and the content is accurate when a user looks at it.”

The “engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences” Google uses as examples are ones that allow you to browse websites without ever having to click a link to a new tab on your browser and leave Gmail. You fill out a form, you make that appointment to meet with your boss, you book a business flight, and you do it all within Google.

What this could mean for how employees use email

Your office likely runs on emails. The average employee spends one-third of their working hours reading and responding to email. Although there have been instant messenger challengers, email remains the superior method of workplace communication. With this new update, Google is aiming to combine the real-time advantages of instant messaging platforms with the dominance of emails.

As an open-source feature available now to all developers, the new technology may gain mainstream use the way Google’s AMP for web pages already has by creating an instantaneous, speedy standard we now expect from web page loading.

Time will tell if Google’s AMP feature will radically change how we consume information. Will employees be able to edit emails to keep information “up-to-date,” as Google says, and use emails the way they use instant messenger platforms like Slack? What if clients could change offensive content before (or even after) a reader opens an email.

If we see email as a real-time activity, it would change how we judge the information within it. Email would no longer be the conclusive receipt it is today, and couldn’t be used to document employees’ behavior.