Google today has rolled out an update to the Gmail app for iOS that gives users the ability to further curtail email tracking. The latest update adds a new setting that allows users to block external images in emails from being displayed automatically.
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With today’s update, users can choose to be asked each time whether or not to display external images in an email. This includes email trackers that can be hidden in the body of emails. The new setting is meant to counteract the tracking services that embed small invisible images into emails to let a sender know when an email has been opened.
The change log explains:
You can now choose to be asked before external images are displayed automatically. To enable this for new incoming messages, go to Settings > specific account > Images and select Ask before displaying external images.
As The Verge details, this new setting in Gmail for iOS is a almost certainly response to a controversy from July, when former Twitter executive 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.
Gmail has long included the ability to disable the automatic display of external images on the web, but today’s update to the iOS app finally expands that setting. This joins other features in Gmail designed to prevent tracking, such as blocking a sender from locating a recipient through an IP address.
Gmail is available as a free download on the App Store. The new setting is available now to personal Gmail accounts, but not yet to accounts managed through G Suite.