Home

Share this Story

Thoughts on the New Gmail for Android

new gmail

Well, now that it’s rolling out to everyone are you fans of the new Gmail for Android? The app itself is a mix of new and old, in terms of functionality and looks. Gone is the bottom action bar, in is a new top action bar. The pulldown menu for switching accounts or accessing different labels or inboxes is gone, in is a new slideout side navigation drawer. There are massive colored icons for contacts that default to big letters if you don’t have the sender as a contact, account switching has changed slightly, and you may need to tell Gmail to show either Archive or Delete buttons depending on your preference. It’s a pretty big change, while not being that big of a change – if that makes sense. 

After spending the past few days with the new layout, I can say this – it’s a welcomed update, but there are tweaks that I’d love to see happen soon.

First, the slideout navigation drawer is essentially the previous dropdown menu moved to the side. That’s both a good and bad thing. On a good note, it’s much easier to access with one hand since you can swipe from the edge of your device to reveal it and not have to stretch to reach the top corner. It also shows your recently used labels, which came in handy over the weekend as I traveled and use a “Travel” label quite often. On a negative note, the top half of the drawer is dominated by my five different email accounts. While I hate to continue to compare this to the iOS version, at least the iOS version hides your other accounts in separate drop down in the navigation drawer. So when you swipe over on iOS, you get to see your current account along with all of the labels and inboxes under that account. If you you want to switch accounts, you can tap a down arrow, which opens up a tab with your various accounts.

I would love, love, love to be able to hide my other accounts unless needing to access them at the moment.

gmail ios

The Gmail inbox after the update now includes big, square contact cards next to each email received. On one hand, this adds some much needed color to a pretty boringly grey app, but on the other, one could argue that these massive icons take up useful space on small screens. Couple the space hogging with the fact that these icons revert to giant colored squares with the first letter of the sender’s name centered should you not have them in your contacts, and you get a confusing and unnecessary experience. Sure, the contact icon idea works in principle, assuming you have every single person that emails you in your contacts, but the likelihood of that being the case is probably pretty low. For me, I’m left with an entire inbox full of colored letters. Thankfully, you can turn them off if you want. Actually, it would be nice to have it show icons for those in your contacts, and either default to an image of your choosing or hide completely if the sender isn’t one of your contacts.

SONY DSC

With the new update, the bottom action bar has now been moved up to the top. I’m sure this was done to create a more consistent experience across devices (like tablets) and to meet Android design guidelines, but you are now forced to reach up to the top of your phone to delete, archive, make an email unread, etc. This may be a personal preference, but I much prefer the action bar on the bottom of apps like Gmail, where you are constantly needing to access action bar buttons. Phones are only getting bigger, causing one-handed use to become a dinosaur.

Last, we need more control over almost all of the stuff that Google tweaked in this app. For example, the “Labels” button is now gone when you are in an email or the main inbox. Google decided that you probably like using Folders the “Move To” button over labels, so they hid the “Labels” button in the action overflow and replaced it. That sucks for someone like me who has never used the Folders “Move To” button in his life. I should be able to customize the action bar buttons or at least choose Labels over Folders “Move To.”

Edit:  So clearly I’ve never actually touched the icon that looks like a folder because there was always an icon next to or in its place that was for moving things to Labels. It’s now obvious that you can just tap the folder icon and “move to” specific Labels, but someone explain the point in having both Move To and Labels buttons (like in the web Gmail)? That’s just confusing in and of itself. Plus, if you hit the action overflow button, there is an option to “Change Labels.” Either way, this is another change that was made that we should be allowed to control.

And on that note, your Delete or Archive buttons need to be tweaked in the general settings. Depending on the setting you left off from in the old Gmail, there is a chance that you will see only a Delete or Archive button, not both. You can tell it to show both though, the option just has to be manually set.

Oh, almost forgot to mention that you can pull-to-refresh now, which is awesome.

Again, overall I like what was introduced with the new Gmail app as a general theme, but there are definitely some changes I would like to see.

Your thoughts?

  • Vikinglifeguard

    I want my delete button back. I hate going to the menu. I also want notifications for all tabs. It is annoying to get up and see 0 emails and get to work seeing I have 15 in my inbox. Other than that, I like it.

    • faganm24

      Go to Settings >> General settings >> Archive & Delete Actions >> Select “Show archive & delete” or “show delete only”.

  • Kree Terry

    I just want a unified inbox for ios, i hate having to jump to each of my 3 accounts to check my email. That was the main reason i tried mailbox, but at the time they had no ipad app so i dropped it.

  • Bretton Key

    Love the new gmail.

  • ezpotato

    i’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the outlook.com app looks better, and is slightly better at functionality… first time i’ve ever said anything like that…….

    • KT Pierce

      I know.. it feels weird to suddenly NEED to turn away from gmail. I’m actually feeling forced to switch to Yahoo at this point. :(

  • Mark Cofano

    I guarantee you that no one on the Google UI Team asked any significant number of us these questions before preparing this release:

    a) do you care if you see the picture of the sender in your email vs more screen real estate for emails?
    b) do you find that mess of brightly colored squares with a single letter in them informative or annoying?
    b) do you want to have the default action for swipe be delete or archive?
    c) do you want to have to guess how to use the new features or would you prefer that the changes be intuitive?

    Yes, I know you can turn the squares/pictures off. Yes, I know that the default action can be delete instead of archive. The point is:

    …Why the heck would I HAVE TO SEARCH to “fix” my email and set it back to what I am used to!!? Wouldn’t the default configuration be about DELIGHTING me as a user so that I tell my friends, “you gotta get the new “Gmail for Android?”

    Wouldn’t it be better if Google sent me an email with the title “CHANGES TO Gmail for Android”, containing a link to a nice webpage or video showing me how to access all these new features if I wanted them? Nope…the end-user experience is definitely a second priority.

    Google’s UI decisions suggest that what they really want is to shove Plus down our throats and have as much of our data on file as possible.

    There is no free lunch. You pay with your time and your privacy.

  • I miss the old Google

    One of the most distinctive, unique, and appealing features google products, most notably gmail, was the CLEAN interface and UI. These big useless lettered colourful blocks are a departure from that. At least we can turn them off. For now they’re letting us turn them off, anyway.

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

    I can still send and receive Gmail, and the app is better looking while not sacrificing functionality.

    Overall, I think it’s a win.

  • guest

    sucks. sucks…sucks
    i want my bottom action bar to quicly delete several mails at once, or group transfer to a particular label/folder. i don’t want to long press, then select and go through 4 other menu options that i could previously do with the desired number of mail selections and two taps to move.

  • tabbibus

    I wish I could add, delete and otherwise manage labels from the app

    • faganm24

      Agreed.

  • TimTheK

    I’m enjoying the “auto sort”. I get a lot of semi-junky email that I want to look at but usually later. Its nice to have that automatically tucked aside until I am ready for it.

    Not having the delete button at the bottom drives me crazy. I immediately delete 80% of the email I get… and another 10% within a day. I need that button front and center.

    Speaking of deleting email, I’d LOVE to be able to delete from the notifications panel. They give “archive” as an option but I don’t ever archive mail. I either label it, delete it or respond to it.

  • shelderman

    Dude you didnt even turn
    on the biggest feature, categories of promotions, social etc… This is the second review I’ve seen that didn’t know how to do this

  • Zubair

    labels are harder to look for now, selecting messages are easier and looks good.

  • Teddy Chen

    I personally like how they prioritize the “move to” option over the “label” option, which was vice versa before the update. I usually move my important emails to different single labels instead of keeping them under multiple labels. This amounts to less button presses for me.

  • Alexander Garcia

    Hated it at first, but now I actually love all the new stuff! =)

  • Jason Murray

    I’d like the sender images to be about 20% smaller.

  • artsr2002

    One thing that I don’t like about this new update is when it comes to selecting multiple emails to mark as read. Before, I had disabled the check boxes and would press/hold on the first then just click the additional emails which would highlight them as I went along. With this update I have to press/hold each one else instead of highlighting the ones after the initial one, it opens the email instead of just highlighting it! Is there a checkbox setting instead then that I’m missing somewhere??? Thanks

    • artsr2002

      Found that if I remove the sender images the old way works again.

      • artsr2002

        Well the sender images ARE the checkboxes. Doh! I’m going back under my rock……

        • http://www.techmantis.net/ Minja Miketa

          I was going to say this but you figured it out. They mentioned it somewhere, but it is a bit confusing.

  • Tiuri

    I agree completely about hiding the various gmail addresses. Wish this would change back to the drop-down box!!!

  • Strummy

    Still no way to mark all read? Am I the only one who gets too many email to swipe/select one a time?

  • C-Law

    I’ve been so mad that the trash can disappeared. It’s a pain to delete stuff. Are you saying I can get it back ?

  • Sly

    Anybody else lose the gmail dashclock notifications after the update with the new mail categories setup?

  • Alex

    I was really really hoping they would give an option to turn off the conversation view. I went back to using Moto stock email app.

    • droidrazredge

      I know Google has said that they don’t support turning off conversation view in the gmail app currently but for some reason when I disabled conversation view in the web version of gmail it seems to work for messages that come through via the gmail app. I will check what I did and update the reply.

  • Anthony Mathon Sicilia

    works perfect other than i cant see my chats from the chat tab, shows up blank on app but fine on PC

    • sirmeili

      Works fine on mine, so it at least is “meant” to work.

  • AloXander

    I want on the message list: swipe left to delete and swipe right to archive. So simple, and it will make cleaning emails a breeze.

    • Anhstein

      I’d mix the two up all the time, me dum dum like that.

  • BK

    Any way to disable or hide the “Priority Inbox” option in the slide out sidebar? I don’t use it, so it’s just taking up space.

  • enigmaco

    I don’t know if it was mentioned but you can empty the trash now through it. Don’t think that option was available before.

  • Chris

    small gripe but I’d love to have a black sidebar. Not everything needs to be white…..

  • Rithvik Rao

    I’m forgetting how Kellen changed his soft navigation keys… Anyone remember the tweak/app he used?

    • Hothfox
      • Rithvik Rao

        Yeah, you’re right.

        I just saw their post about Tim and Kellen’s home screen, and he mentioned it there. Even though it would make so sense for it to work without root, I was hoping I didn’t have to root to use it :)

      • Rithvik Rao

        Yeah, I saw it on his “What’s On Your Home Screen” post just now.

        Thanks! ;)

  • Dustin

    At this point, I think i’d give my left nut for a mark as read option on jelly bean notifications…

  • http://www.youtube.com/kimirPORTALS kimir

    Functionality is 10x greater, but I still think it’s bland. It needs more contrasting colors, it’s mostly white and gray, with an ounce of blue.

  • droidrazredge

    I like how in landscape view, it is swipe with the left thumb (from right to left) to bring up the menu and swipe with the right thumb ( from left to right). I like how I can use this functionality and new UI for Google Apps even though Google Apps is not supported in the web version and application version

  • RoadsterHD1

    I love it.

  • Mahers

    I found a way in an email to change the labels. Click the tiny label in the top right corner, under the folder icon, and a list of labels opens up and allows you to change the label for that specific email. I don’t see that option in the main inbox tho, but I’m still looking.

  • Dane Carpenter

    I kept trying to figure out what application I accidentally opened when the new UI presented itself.

  • Sailor Psychic

    As far as I know, Gmail doesn’t have folders. It only has labels. The folder icon is a “Move to” icon, which at least in the Inbox, does a combination of adding the label you choose to move the email to and removing the Inbox label from it (i.e., archiving it). That is, unless I’m confusing folders with the new Inbox tabs: Social, Promotions, Updates, Forums.

    I do miss the bottom action bar because it had more actions directly available instead of having to click the overflow button, and I used most of the buttons down there.

    • http://JeremyCouch.com/ Jeremy Couch

      I agree. I don’t understand the complaint here. When I click the folder icon, I get a “move to” option with all my labels listed as expected. Kellex, please explain.

      • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

        So I see what you are saying, and have clarified in the post. Now it just seems like two buttons doing the same thing. Why have a Move To button and then a Change Labels option in the overflow menu?

        • http://JeremyCouch.com/ Jeremy Couch

          Now that’s a good point lol… No idea why they would do that. I thought maybe it was because the Folder icon didn’t show on some of the other screens, like in the inbox, but I tested selecting messages in the inbox and the action shows up on the top bar there too.

          • Tonya

            How do you select multiple message in the “new” inbox without opening them? Previously, there were check-boxes next to each, so I could select several & then mark all of those with the same label, or Delete or Archive them all at once. Now, I can swipe to Delete, but can’t do anything else to an email without opening it (or at least I haven’t found that option yet!).

          • Jarrod Lombardo

            With sender icons on, the icons act as hidden checkboxes.
            With sender icons off, long press on the first email you want and you’ll see a check in the top left. Just tap the rest for multi-select.

        • JamesU513

          Move To option moves the email with one press to either a label or category (easier than messing with the check boxes under “Change Label”)……Change Label option allows you to select multiple labels instead of just moving it to a single label or category

  • Damien Luna

    Ever since the update im not receiving notifciations and all my widgets that would tell me how many emails i have no longer update. the only fix around this was to not use the categorizing of the emails into social, forum, updates, and so forth and just have them all in the inbox.

    • Ryan Cota

      This can be fixed, looks like they disabled notifications for the other categories on default with the update, Go to Settings > “Your email account” > Inbox sound & vibrate > Notify for every message

      Also, and this area is probably what’s causing your issue, go to Settings > “Your email account” > Manage Labels. Here you can enable and configure the notifications and vibration for the new categories and your other labels.

      Hope this helps, after this you can get notifications from all categories and labels!

  • Daeshaun Griffiths

    Personally i like the action bar on top. When i’m holding my phone, my thumb is pointed in that direction so it’s not too much travel.

    sometimes the drag to refresh feels like it’s a longer gesture than it should be.

    • droidrazredge

      What action-bar is everyone referring to ? is it the one in the top left corner or the swipe gesture bar to bring out the menu ?

    • sirmeili

      I know we’re only about 10% of the population, but putting the menu button constantly at the top right makes it harder to reach with your left thumb (one handed). I’ve never understood this. Putting it along the bottom seems to work for both sets (left and right handed people). I have a Gnex (not an overly large phone, IMHO), and i have to contort to hit stuff in the upper right on my phone. I much preferred it on the bottom in the old version.

  • brkshr

    The action bar should be at the bottom for everything. Every single app should not have any buttons at the top. Doesn’t matter if it’s a phone or a tablet. It’s easier & quicker to reach things at the bottom. I hope Google realizes this at some point in time.

    • j__h

      I came to this same conclusion when screen sizes for phones surpassed 4″

  • Abhijeet Mishra

    The whole guideline of the action bar on top is flawed on Android, no one wants to continually reach up no matter if the button is regularly used in an app or only sometimes. It’s one of those Google things that are a mess in usability. Windows Phone takes the best approach by putting it at bottom.

  • hurrpancakes

    I don’t know why, but since this update I’m not getting any notifications for received emails.

    • Rich Jones

      I saw this and I If the messages go into a box other than primary I don’t see a notification. .

      • http://twitter.com/savagejeep SavageJeep

        @hurrpancakes:disqus @disqus_H3ptAkbQs9:disqus

        Settings > Your email account > Manage Labels.
        Enable and configure the notifications/vibration for each categories and labels. Kind of a pain: Need an option for “All Emails”

        • Rich Jones

          For me that box is checked, still woke up to 5 emails and no notification.

  • Blue Sun

    My iPod Touch has a label for unread emails. I use this feature on my desktop version of Gmail, yet I have not seen this option on the Android version. I hope I just overlooked it in the settings of the Android version.

  • bassman418

    I have a Galaxy Note 2 on verizon running Beanstown106’s Build 17 and the new gmail wouldnt refresh itself. (Push not working)
    Does anyone else have this problem?

    • brkshr

      I think this update may have effected GMail in a larger way. I emailed my buddy from my desktop & it took an hour for my emails to get to him. This has never happened before & he was receiving emails from others.

  • Harpreet Bains

    Love the swipe to delete feature :)

    • jcampbell474

      I do too, but found that sliding the interface out, if not done perfectly, can easily result in a deleted message.

    • droidrazredge

      Did they finally make that a default option to swipe to delete instead of archive now ? Before I had to manually switch the settings in the GMAIL app.

      • Harpreet Bains

        By default, its still ‘archive only’, but this can be changed to ‘delete only’ under settings->General Setting

        • droidrazredge

          ah ok that makes sense now. I can help my friend change their settings as it is the way it was before the 4.5 update. I change it because I got tired of accidentally archiving messages and then having to go into labels to change it when I meant to delete it in the first place. Thanks for the update.

      • Harpreet Bains

        By default, it still ‘archive only’, but can be changed to “delete only’ under Settings-> General Settings.

  • Tim242

    I love it. I haven’t experienced that dreaded stuck in outbox bug. Hopefully, it is gone for good. Love the slide out navigation. Just got Google Wallet on my VZW S4. We’re on a roll!

    • brkshr

      I experienced this bug on my desktop as well. It took an hour for my buddy to get my email.

  • Samvelavich

    I like the new layout they’re updating all their apps with, but is still seems like its gonna need some getting used to. Welcome update, but not something everyone will get accustomed to, it will take time for the non android-enthusiasts to get used to it.

  • Dutch

    I can delete the big boxy images.. Click on Settings, General Settings, and toggle off “Sender Image -show beside name in converstaion list-“

  • Mwagner

    You *can* turn off the sender images…. Menu -> Settings -> General Settings -> Sender image

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      I seriously looked passed that 10 times then. Because that was the first thing I looked for and somehow missed it. It’s definitely there. Tweaked post. Ugh.

    • EC8CH

      +1 this guy

    • Mike

      It took forever to find that option when looking last night. Thank god those ugly letters are gone.

      • Anon

        It looks like Windows 8/Office 2013. And I don’t mean in a good way.

      • droidrazredge

        Sender Image would look better if everyone had a photo instead of letters in my opinion.

        • Anon

          Wait until the occasional hardcore porn spam slips through. Not so sure that’d be a great idea.

          • droidrazredge

            lololololol I just got an icon image in my head of what that could possibly be like. Someone looking at your phone when you’re showing them the new update and one of those “want to be my F buddy” spam comes with an erotic picture and you’ll have to explain why that’s in your email hahha

          • http://www.youtube.com/kimirPORTALS kimir

            I’m okay with that.

        • http://www.thinkgeeks4u.com Hiral Patel

          They are based on Google+ Profiles so if they do not have a G+ profile no photo. They should allow all social networks then images would appear for all email senders. Thank God I have unlimited DATA VZW.

          • droidrazredge

            Ah that would make sense then as far as the sender images. Gmail could pull from pictures too I presume. I know peoples picture from Google Apps show up as their sender images. Is there a way to manually edit sender images that anyone has found out ?

          • http://www.thinkgeeks4u.com Hiral Patel

            Not sure about Google Apps but read in some Social Media Marketing Blog about G+ not being friendly with interlinking of social networks and profiles. Like FB is with Twitter etc. Then again how do you go to your direct competitor and say lets link up (FB) Twitter however is a different platform compared to G+ so they could potentially co-exist.

          • sirmeili

            Are they Google+ images or are they images from your contacts? I have people that while they do have g+ profiles, the images I see are the ones I have in my contacts, not in their g+ profile. So I would have to assume that this does not necessarily have to be that they are based on G+ profile pics, but instead contact pictures that if they aren’t in your contacts and have a g+ profile, it uses that (since they happen to have access to it).

          • ch0rn

            I would say well under 10% of the people I talk to via email have a G+ which makes this pretty ridiculous looking in my gmail. 10% is probably being generous.

          • sirmeili

            My point was that it’s not really all that based on g+, but instead your contacts, only falling back on g+ when they aren’t in your contacts.

    • Rafa Sandoval

      I actually find those letters useful, it helps me locate emails quicker.

    • coolsilver

      First thing I did. Second was turn back on Delete button. I’m still unsure this is any better than a single inbox.

  • FarmerTechno

    Lol love that Kellex censored senders’ last names, yet left their full email addresses.

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      Luuuuulz, fixed.

      • Fozzybare

        still have some unblurred last names there

      • Pedro

        I wonder if Donna knows anyone with a last name of King.
        I used to work with a Herrick, but it wasn’t Justin.

  • EC8CH

    Most people probably don’t have more than one Gmail account.

    *braces for people insisting their 6 gmail accounts are the norm*

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      This is true, but for those who do, give us a way to hide them. They did on iOS dammit!

      • EC8CH

        True, and my point probably makes a better case for burying them in a sub menu instead of listing them all out in the open.

        How often do people jump back and forth between accounts inside the app? That’s the biggest advantage to having them all listed instead of collapsed.

        • jnt

          makes more sense with something like a tablet that would be shared among a household

          • brkshr

            Isn’t that what Multi-User is for? or do the GMails still show up on all users?

        • droidrazredge

          wasn’t the multiple email accounts always listed like that ? Just before you had to click on the GMAIL Icon and then choose your email, but they were always still listed since the previous version. I feel it’s just less squished together and more spread out between each email account.

        • Pedro

          Shoot, I’d be happy if the Gmail app didn’t bother with accounts unless you told it to sync.
          I have my daughter’s account on my phone (and she knows I can see everything she does), but more for app purchases. General, fun stuff I’ll buy on her account. Then everyone can play/enjoy.

          But I don’t sync anything else in her account (shh! Don’t tell her!), so I’d just as soon not have to look at it in the Gmail app.

      • Seth Merritt

        Like the drive app?

    • Allan

      Most probably don’t. But I would think A LOT of people have at least two. Whether it be work and personal or school and personal. I think it should default to showing two in the drawer; I go back and forth from my old school account and my personal account frequently and this makes it quick to switch between them. If you have more than two, it should go to putting them all in a single drop down list like the iOS version.

    • feztheforeigner

      I would say most people have at least two (maybe not five like Kellex): One personal and one for either work or school.

      I have four: personal, school, two for work

    • coolsilver

      But only one G+ profile… grrr. I want one for work associates and one for friends.

    • Tenley Baldwin

      I have two (personal & professional), plus my school acct uses Google Apps so that comes to Gmail too. I have all 3 emails set to come to my one account though, and only have the one account synced to my phone, so no matter which email a message was sent to, it shows the same way in my inbox, regardless of whether I’m on my phone or the computer. If you don’t use your extra Google accounts for anything other than gmail this seems like a good option if you ask me. (Well if you don’t care to keep your mail separate- could also use labels to label mail for different accts I suppose if you do want to know at a glance which account it was sent to at least)

  • Kisuk3

    Those big bright boxes have got to go.

    Otherwise still feeling it out, but happy so far.

    • ReturnOfTheMack

      Just turn them off under settings.

  • Rusty Shackleford

    I don’t like the look of it.

    • Chris Hannan

      Getting down voted for having an opinion. :/

      I disagree because I do like the look of it, but up voted you anyway.