Google will be removing the Basic HTML version of Gmail by January 2024. This older version, less feature-rich than its modern counterpart, primarily serves users with slower internet connections and older browsers.
The Gmail basic HTML interface evokes memories of Gmail’s older designs. It offers a faster-loading alternative to the standard version. If users want to add text formatting or embed links in their messages, they must use the correct HTML code. To use the Basic HTML view, users visit the Gmail HTML website, log in, and select “I’d like to use HTML Gmail.” If the site redirects them to the standard interface, they might need to return to the Gmail HTML site.
A Google spokesperson explained the decision, saying, “The Gmail Basic HTML views are previous versions of Gmail that their modern successors replaced 10+ years ago and do not include full Gmail feature functionality.”
Users Respond to Google’s Decision
Not all users have welcomed the decision. On Mastodon, Pratik Patel, identifying as “a blind technologist,” shared his concerns. He said, “I know many #blind people who use Gmail’s HTML view. Not only will they be confused but will be unhappy.” He also mentioned the increasing difficulty of finding the Basic HTML view option in Gmail.
Service Discontinuations: A Common Google Trend
The company has a history of discontinuing services that don’t align with its objectives. Over time, many services, both popular and less known, have faced this fate. Sometimes, after significant backlash, Google has reconsidered. In 2022, for example, Google opted to retain the free G Suite legacy edition due to widespread user dissatisfaction.
Google is committed to ensuring accessibility, and this is shown in offering features such as screen reader support and hands-free email functionality in Gmail.
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What You Should Know About the Change
Google’s support page gives clear instructions for users. The page, titled “Use the latest version of Gmail in your browser,” mentions that Gmail will only be available in Basic HTML view until January 2024. After this deadline, users will be transitioned to the Standard view automatically.
For users encountering issues with the Standard view, the page lists potential solutions: checking browser compatibility with Gmail, disabling extensions, clearing cache and cookies, among other suggestions. If problems persist, Google recommends using the Gmail app for Android, iPhone, or iPad or other email clients supporting IMAP and POP, such as Outlook or Apple Mail.
Alternative Options for Users
The Basic HTML version of Gmail was designed for users with slow internet connections or old browsers because it used fewer resources. Some believe the decision might be linked to the Basic HTML view’s restricted ad features. Users dependent on this version should consider other email services or different ways to access Gmail.
Google has confirmed the impending changes, emphasising the accessibility features of Gmail’s standard view. They also stated that users would be alerted about the switch to the standard view well ahead of the Basic HTML version’s discontinuation.