As you may or may not have heard Gmail has decided to automatically load images for all of its users.
”yaaaay!” I hear you cry.
“But why didn’t they do this earlier?” … is a great question.
Images are blocked to stop spammers finding about live inboxes and to stop viruses getting into your computers and phones through images. This was a famous way of getting infected back in the late nineties when Outlook used the “open doorway to viruses” that was older versions of internet explorer to render emails. Now Outlook uses MS word, you are far safer, however the rendering is horrific. This is when the preheader “Can’t see this email? click here” was born.
On the back of this almost everyone started to block images for security reasons both in installed email clients and the web-app clients. Except on a Mac as they weren’t targeted with these kind of viruses to the extent Windows was.
Then along came the iPhone and suddenly Windows users were presented with an inbox that didn’t block images; at this point people started to wonder why this wasn’t normal practice.
Since Google is in direct competition with Apple for phones and in direct competition with Microsoft for cloud office, their email services had to keep up with Apple as well as stay ahead of Microsofts Office365 and Outlook.com
Outside of the inbox’s “always show images from this sender” button, Microsoft already had a few auto-load images options:
Senderscore certification: if you qualify, you can pay ReturnPath for a safelisting which tells most big inboxes such as Yahoo and Hotmail (not Gmail) that you are a safe sender. These inboxes will then let you in and generally auto-load your images. This is particularly good as the images off experience in Hotmail is terrible.
Recently with the rebrand to Outlook.com, Hotmail have been using their background reputation system to decide to auto-load images of some senders. This has not been consistent but a nice change.
Gmail meanwhile was not without it’s own tricks: Gmail’s images off experience was one of the best around. Gmail knows that their audience understand image blocking, so doesn’t go over the top like Microsoft has done previously. Instead Gmail will show alt text in most situations, it will show background colours and will let you style the alt text, Pizza Express used this very well!
Also if a user replies to an address more than twice, Gmail will decide that the sender is a trusted contact and start to autoload the images.
Today, Gmail will lead the windows, online and Android inbox experience with consistent autoloading of images, putting an end to having to load the images each time.
Don’t forget to turn on your Android phone’s email sync!