Audacious Fox

Raymond Wainman for the G Suite Developers Blog:

Today, we’re announcing AMP for Email so that emails can be formatted and sent as AMP documents. As a part of this, we’re also kicking off the Gmail Developer Preview of AMP for Email-so once you’ve built your emails, you’ll be able to test them in Gmail.

AMP for Email opens up several new possibilities:

  • Design interactive components for email using a large library of supported AMP components like amp-carousel, amp-form, amp-bind, amp-list and more
  • Help your content stay up-to-date and interactive for your users.
  • Create more engaging and actionable email experiences

Go check out the gif of what an AMP email can do. Basically, it brings the interactivity of a tiny webpage to your email. Devin Coldewey, TechCrunch:

The moat between communication and action is important because it makes it very clear what certain tools are capable of, which in turn lets them be trusted and used properly.

We know that all an email can ever do is say something to you (tracking pixels and read receipts notwithstanding). It doesn’t download anything on its own, it doesn’t run any apps or scripts, attachments are discrete items, unless they’re images in the HTML, which is itself optional. Ultimately the whole package is always just going to be a big , static chunk of text sent to you, with the occasional file riding shotgun. Open it a year or ten from now and it’s the same email. […]

AMP is, to begin with, Google exerting its market power to extend its control over others’ content. Facebook is doing it, so Google has to. Using its privileged position as the means through which people find a great deal of content, Google is attempting to make it so that the content itself must also be part of a system it has defined.

Google being hellbent on slowly, methodically suffocating simple, durable, and universal tools like RSS and email frustrates me. Email thrives in its lack of sophistication and — as anyone who’s accidentally pressed send too early knows — permanence once delivered. This, at times, can be annoying or limiting, but the alternatives would undermine email’s immense usefulness.

This isn’t about innovation, either. AMP critics aren’t against matured technologies becoming better, but you have to do it without bifurcating the core format. Additionally, if Google’s concerned about the user experience of email, they already have a good initiative going: email actions. These are small tags in emails that allow Gmail to extract flight previews, add one-click “track this package” buttons and more to your messages. These are invisible, additive, and — frankly — convenient things to have; and all without fundamentally changing the original email. Extract all you want, but don’t replace the spec.

We haven’t even talked about spam yet, either. Can you imagine interactive spam? Maybe Google’s spam filtering is robust enough to save Gmail users, but if AMP in email becomes as widely used as they intend, they’ll have handed spammers and malicious actors a whole host of new tools to phish and deceive users.

The email experience can certainly be improved, but it needs to be approached as supportive tools around the email message, not replacing the message entirely.

Saturday, 17 February 2018