Google’s Gmail app for iPhone and iPad just received a major update – one that aims to make email conversations a tad bit more secure and private.
Gmail users can now choose to not have images inside an email load automatically when they are accessing their emails using the Gmail app on an iPhone or iPad. Toggling this option on under the Settings menu within the app will allow Gmail to block any images in incoming emails, including the invisible trackers that images usuallu come with and reduce the risk of malware that is often attached with images in mails.
Currently, this setting is only available for personal Gmail accounts and not for those under G Suite. For those wondering, update is already live on the App Store with the changelog explaning exactly how to find the new toggle. To enable this for new incoming messages, go to Settings -> Specific account -> Images and select Ask before displaying external images,” explains the changelog.
As pointed out by The Verge, the inclusion of this new setting in Gmail for iOS, stems from a controversy in July when former Twitter exec Mike Davidson drew attention to how a subscription email service was allowing users to track the location and time of when an email was opened.
Google has had an identical image blocking feature on its web client for a while now. But it was easy for users to overlook the fact that their Gmail app for iPhone and iPad app did not have a similar toggle in place by default. What is even easier is overlook is how automatic image loading can be potentially problematic. The risk with automatic image loading in mails is that if someone attaches a malware with the image, that piece of malicious software also gets downloaded on the device, which can then remotely transmit your data.
This seemingly minor improvement now join a host of other features in Gmail, introduced to prevent tracking, such as blocking a sender from locating a recipient through an IP address etc.