ProtonMail Challenges GMail

ProtonMail, the flagship product from Swiss-based privacy company Proton, is due to go through some major upgrades in the coming months that look set to challenge Gmail’s dominance in the web-based email market.

While Proton has expanded in recent years to offer encrypted cloud storage and VPN routing, email storage built around hardcore privacy has always been a core part of Proton’s mission statement – an alternative to email providers like Gmail who offer a free service in return for access to aggregated data from your emails.

Is this the future of non-invasive, privacy-oriented email providers?

Now, Proton has recently released a feature roadmap for 2023 that includes “Categorized emails” as standard. Gmail currently does this by scanning your emails and grouping them based on content, which allows you to easily sort between groups like “social media” and “work emails” without manually assigning emails to them.

This requires Gmail to scan the contents of your email. Proton don’t go into further detail about how they expect to build this feature without scanning or exposing private email data, but more details on the implementation will become apparent closer to release.

New Privacy Features

There’s also some brand new privacy upgrades for the existing ProtonMail product. Proton already offers protection against email trackers such as pixel trackers and email spy apps, but new obfuscation techniques alluded to in the roadmap stop internet trackers from knowing when you’ve opened an email, as well as extending this protection to iOS by default.

Single Sign On reduces the need to sign in on different apps from the same provider

There’s also a completely rewritten ProtonMail app coming for Android in 2023, which will integrate with Proton’s new Single Sign On system for mobile. This will allow Proton users to flip between different products in the Proton family with cross-product integration, such as immediate cloud upload for attachments too big for ProtonMail. This is very reminiscent of Google’s relationship between Drive and Gmail, which acts as cloud backup for email attachments.

Additional Convenience

It’s not just integration across storage, either. ProtonMail is getting upgraded with reminder notifications, snooze mails, and deeper integration with the Proton Calendar. Calendar itself is going through some key changes, including the launch of Proton Calendar for iPhone to keep parity with the existing Android calendar app.

Both Android and iPhone apps have had a UI overhaul

In addition to the new app, the Proton Calendar will give you the option to share your events and schedule with other users on the Proton platform, bringing Calendar far closer to existing scheduling functionality across platforms like Outlook 365 and Gmail.

ProtonMail’s content scanning will also generate suggested events for Proton Calendar from the context of an email, although again details on how this will actually work while protecting privacy are currently sparse.

No More Security Choices

The choice between ProtonMail and other, less privacy-conscious email providers has always boiled down to privacy against convenience. In Proton’s 2023 roadmap, it’s apparent that the company is focusing on closing the gap between the two.

By offering deeper integration between separate Proton products and taking on board the challenge of doing completely anonymous email parsing, Proton is trying to show that you don’t need to sacrifice privacy in order to have control over your daily schedule.

While there aren’t a lot of concrete dates for Proton’s new rollout, we do know that ProtonMail’s email tracker blocking will be coming in the next month, along with the ability to schedule emails for delivery.

ProtonMail continues to compete against Gmail’s dominance by extending ProtonMail’s email service into a lifestyle-focused privacy brand, and as 2023 rolls out, we’re likely to see more attempts from ProtonMail to convince Gmail users to make the switch.