Custom Themes in Gmail; Google Mail Becomes Gmail in Germany; Google Apps Rolls Out Enhanced Microsoft Active Directory Integration, 2-step Verification

Back in November last year, Gmail's new look was introduced with a number of new, default HD themes. However, the "custom themes" feature was still missing -- to this end, Google today, begin rolling out a new Custom themes section to help users bring more personal touch by setting their own background to customize the […]

Back in November last year, Gmail's new look was introduced with a number of new, default HD themes. However, the "custom themes" feature was still missing -- to this end, Google today, begin rolling out a new Custom themes section to help users bring more personal touch by setting their own background to customize the Gmail.

The new Custom themes comes with two options, Light and Dark where you can only choose between a light or dark interface and pick a background image.

Find your perfect image and make your Gmail your own with custom themes. "You can upload your own images directly, select from your Google+ photos or simply paste any image URL. Or, if you don't have a particular image in mind, you can browse our searchable Featured Photos section to find one that speaks to you. With so many great options, it may be hard to choose, so to get a sense of the images available, try searching for 'hdr scenery' or 'bokeh wallpaper' in the Featured tab," explains Google.

Gmail's new themes are more adaptable and show the entire image, but you can't customize colors, fonts and all the other details of the interface. The old custom themes feature allowed you to "select colors for everything from the background of your inbox to link text".

Custom Gmail Themes with Light and Dark Options

Custom Themes Section in Gmail

Custom Gmail themes also now available to Google Apps, Google Apps for Business, Government and Education.

If you have not yet received the update, you can try the new feature right now -- just click the "settings" button, choose "themes" (or use this URL), scroll down to "custom themes", click "light" or "dark" and select an image. You can pick one of the great featured images from Picasa Web, choose one of your photos, use the search feature, upload an image or paste a URL. A similar interface is used for Google homepage's custom background feature.

Watch the video to see some examples:

Also, the following features are intended for release to the domains (Google Apps, Google Apps for Business, Government and Education) on June 26th: "Docs: Users will have the ability to add comments to any file that is uploaded to Google Docs or Drive and that can be opened with Google Docs Viewer. Such files can also be shared with other users with commenter permissions."

Also, note, that begining today, Gmail is now called "Gmail" everywhere. In a blog post, Google notes, that untily today, German users had a @googlemail address instead of @gmail.com -- but, today, onwards, "Google Mail is becoming Gmail in Germany."

"All new accounts will receive an @gmail.com address and if you have an existing @googlemail.com address, you'll soon be able to switch to @gmail.com," posted Google.

If you're ready to make the change, over the next few weeks, a link will appear at the top when you login over the coming weeks.

Gmail becomes Gmail in German

"Once you make the change, you will still receive mail sent to your @googlemail.com address and all of your emails, contacts, and account settings will stay exactly the same. Plus, you can switch back at any time if you change your mind," Google adds.

For more details, check out the FAQ.

Here is the video that explains what it's like to Go Google in German:

Finally, to help keeping Google Apps accounts secure, Google recently added two security features: the first helps businesses deploy 2-step verification and the second enhances integration with Microsoft Active Directory.

Since we launched 2-step verification, we've seen millions of users enable it and thousands more do so every day. 2-step verification requires two means of identification to sign in to a Google Apps account: something you know (a password) and something you have (a verification code from your mobile phone). Even if someone has stolen your password, they'll need more than that to access your account. This additional layer of security greatly reduces the chance of unauthorized access via account hijacking or other means.

Starting today, domain administrators can require the users in their domain to use 2-step verification. This new feature will help Google Apps customers accelerate their deployment of 2-step verification.

For businesses that use Microsoft Active Directory (AD), "we've added new capabilities to synchronize and manage passwords. Businesses can manage password policies (e.g. password strength, reset intervals, etc.) using AD and then synchronize from AD to Google Apps when passwords are changed. Passwords are transmitted hashed and encrypted during synchronization," explains Google.

Download the Google Apps Password Sync for Active Directory (GAPS), and learn how to configure it in the help center.

And, to learn how to configure this new 2-step verification policy in the Google Apps, check out this help center.