Proton, the Swiss company behind a suite of privacy-focused products including email, has teased a pretty substantial upgrade to its flagship Proton Mail and calendar services.
Although Proton has expanded into cloud storage and VPNs over the years, encrypted email remains Proton’s bread and butter — and that’s arguably the most interesting facet of its latest reveal.
Indeed, while Proton often positions itself as the antithesis of Google, at least from a privacy perspective, the company has unveiled a busy roadmap for the coming months that will usher in a slew of new features reminiscent of a little Gmail. And that’s not a bad thing.
Google has gone to great lengths to make its ecosystem of products as sticky as possible, and for the most part it has worked, with Gmail among the most used email services on Earth.
From a consumer perspective, Gmail offers great utility, including an email categorization system that automatically groups incoming emails by type under separate tabs, helping users find specific email types. (e.g., “social” or “promotions”). While this system may not appeal to everyone and users can opt out, it represents one of the many promises Google makes to retain users: “we’ll make your life easier” is the general idea .
With this in mind, Proton Mail will offer a similar categorization feature in the future. This may raise questions about how Proton will achieve this without compromising the privacy of user data, as categorization surely depends on content analysis, but the company said it is working to implement in a “completely private” way using the sender category. Taking this at Proton’s word, this could prove to be a popular feature, which could help ease the path for those looking to quit Gmail.
Elsewhere, Gmail has offered message scheduling for a few years now, allowing users to set up emails to be sent at a specific time and date, most likely when they’re sleeping soundly. Again, this is something Proton is also working on, bringing it closer to feature parity with Gmail.
Other new features coming soon include email reminders, where users can set an alert to remind them to respond later, while also being able to snooze emails that serve a similar purpose. This is similar to a feature offered by Gmail since 2018.
And something more in line with Proton’s emphasis on privacy, the company said it will add new features to block email tracking, so companies or bad actors can’t tell when an e-mail has been opened, rendering the data unusable.
As it stands, searching through emails in Proton Mail has its limitations. For those on the web, searching for message content is for paid premium users only, but on mobile it’s not really an option beyond metadata like the subject line. Going forward, Proton said it is extending full message search to mobile apps, with emails downloaded to a user’s device so they can use keywords to search message content. via a locally stored index.
it’s a date
The upcoming changes are not limited to Proton Mail, however. The company is gearing up to launch a native calendar app for iPhone in the coming weeks, nearly a year after coming to Android. In addition to this, it will also roll out a new 3 and 7 day view (similar to Google Calendar) in the Proton Calendar app, while there will also be a “full agenda” view which displays a day’s schedule . activities in a chronological list filled with infinite scrolling.
Finally, Proton will also allow users to create to-do lists and turn tasks into reminders that will show up in the Calendar app.
As Proton continues to expand its product line, with its Proton Drive cloud storage service recently available in beta on the web, the company now plans to roll out deeper integrations across its product suite. For example, email attachments that exceed Proton Mail’s 25MB limit will be automatically downloaded to Proton Drive, with the recipient able to access the file via a secure link – again, this is something Google offers since 2013.
And in April this year, Proton acquired email alias service SimpleLogin, a platform that allows users to protect their real email address when signing up for online services. Proton said it plans to create tighter integrations between SimpleLogin’s email aliases and Proton Mail.
Finally, Proton also revealed that it is bringing single sign-on (SSO) to mobile, which means that users of Proton’s various apps will only have to log in once to access each individual service — this is currently available, but only through a web browser.
In terms of timelines, Proton isn’t yet disclosing specific dates for anything, although it did say that Proton Mail’s email scheduling and follow-up blocker will arrive within the next month, as will the new iPhone Calendar application and the 3 views of the 7-day and 7-day calendar.
Everything else will land at various intervals throughout 2023.