Google said Tuesday it has begun rolling out what it calls “dynamic email,” an enhancement to its web-based Gmail page that in some cases eliminates the need to open a separate tab to accomplish a task. Microsoft also said it will add support for the same technology, known as AMP HTML preview.
Dynamic email feels somewhat like an extension of the dynamic replies that will pop up in response to an existing Gmail message, or the autocomplete functions available in Google Search: a simple tool to save time. Dynamic email works by sucking a small portion of the web directly into the email pane, automating a particular task.
Here’s an example: In Google Docs, if a collaborator comments on a line in a sales contract, they can notify you via Gmail to take action. Instead of a link to the document that you’re forced to open, you can simply comment directly in the email, and the comment will be added to the document in question.
After Google announced its support for dynamic email, Microsoft did the same. "We are continually seeking new ways to provide outstanding customer experiences and drive advancements in email," the company said, adding that it would be in preview in Outlook.com by this summer. "As part of this pursuit, we are adding support for the AMPHTML email format as a preview in Outlook.com."
The format also supports dynamic content to keep information contained in email messages up-to-date, Microsoft said.
Whether you call it dynamic email or AMPHTML, it's also a way to add more “stickiness” to both email pages. If you use another email app to access Gmail, the dynamic functions won’t appear; instead, all you’ll see is a static page. It’s also not available within the mobile app, though that will be coming soon.
Unfortunately, many of Google's dynamic email partners are services and advertisers, which may or may not be valuable: Booking.com, Despegar, Doodle, Ecwid, Freshworks, Nexxt, OYO Rooms, Pinterest and redBus. Pinterest, for example, will send you a list of trending pins, which you can add directly to your boards. And OYO’s listing of suggested rooms includes the ability to hover over photos in the email and see characteristics of the room in question, even launching what appears to be new pages right within the email. (Google’s original post contains some more demonstrations of how it all works.)
Microsoft didn't name any partners.
If dynamic webpages hiding within your email sounds a bit insecure, Google says that every partner who wishes to implement dynamic email must be reviewed by Google. Fortunately, you can also opt out of the new dynamic email if that’s your choice, and revert to a static page later, too.
What this means for you: How a partner or Google itself implements dynamic email will determine how useful it is. I personally prefer to type in a search query, and I use a personalized response to email, too. But automated meeting requests with one-click RSVPs are now part of standard business communication, and it’s possible that we’ll quickly assimilate to dynamic email, too.
This story was updated on March 27 with additional details from Microsoft.