A summarize feature powered by Gemini, Google’s recently debuted generative AI model and digital assistance tool, is coming to the Gmail app for Android – and it could make reading and understanding emails much faster and easier. The feature is expected to roll out soon to all users, and they’ll be able to provide feedback by rating the quality of the generated email summaries. 

The feature has been suspected to be in the works for some time now, as documented by Android Authority, and now it’s apparently close to launch.

One of Android Authority’s code sleuth sources managed to get the feature working on the Gmail app version 2024.04.21.626860299 after a fair amount of tinkering. It’s not disclosed what steps they took, so if you want to replicate this, you’ll have to do some experimenting, but the fact that the summarize feature can be up and running shows that Android Gmail users may not have to wait very long.

There is a screenshot featured in Android Authority’s report showing a chat window where the user asks Gemini to summarize an email that they currently have open, and Gemini obliging. Apparently, this feature will be available via a ‘Summarize this email’ button under an email’s subject line, I assume triggering the above prompt, and this should return a compact summary of the email. This could prove to be especially helpful when dealing with a large number of emails, or for particularly long emails with many details.

Once the summary is provided, users will be shown thumbs up and thumbs down buttons under Gemini’s output, similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT after it gives its reply to a user’s query. This will give Google a better understanding of how helpful the feature is to users and how it could be improved. There will also be a button that allows you to copy the email summary to your clipboard, according to the screenshot. 

A man working at an office and looking at his screen while using Gmail

(Image credit: Shutterstock/fizkes)

When to expect the new feature

The speculation is that the feature could be rolled out during Google’s I/O 2024 event, its annual developer conference, which is scheduled for May 14, 2024. Google is also expected to show off the next iteration of its Pixel A series, the Pixel 8A, it could show its development of augmented reality (AR) technology, and new software and service developments, especially for its devices and ChromeOS (the operating system that powers the best Chromebooks). 

Many Gmail users could potentially find this new summarize feature to be time-saving and that it streamlines their emails, but as with any generative AI, there are concerns about the accuracy of the generated text. If Gemini omits or misinterprets important information, it could lead to oversights or misunderstandings. I’m glad that Google has the feedback system in place, as this will show if the feature is actually serving its purpose well. We’ll have to wait and see, and the proof will be in the pudding whether it results in improved productivity and is reasonably accurate when it’s finally released. 


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