It was way back in July 2010 that Google gave users of its email service a preview of the interface which was to come in the near future but nobody knew it would take 15 months for the Search Giant to unveil the new aesthetic design. Having said that it is good that they took such a long time rather than go the facebook way who are so inclined to constantly change their interface which obviously has not gone down so well with users(They come back to the site anyways :D)
The Navigation panel which has all your labels and chat contacts will now be in your sight irrespective of how much you scroll down the page to view the emails which is a great design feature which Facebook unfortunately didn’t think about when they revamped their home page recently. Also Gmail gives its users more control by allowing them to customize the pane based on priority. For someone who does not wish to chat can always hide it and view more labels and the reverse holds true as well. The widgets are hidden by default. On placing your cursor over any of the labels / chat contacts the area expands giving you the whole view.
Following the minimalistic design approach , the toolbar by default hides the labels which used to show up before as part of actions that could be performed on the email messages. Labels have been replaced by icons resembling the actions they are tied to and they appear only when a user selects one of the email item.
Considering that users of today access their email from devices ranging from a large sized desktop to a laptop to a tablet and finally to the smallest of all –Smart phones, the developers at Google thought that it was necessary to adjust the content based on the screen size and this is why this feature is my personal favourite of all the revamping that has gone into the latest version.
They term this as Elastic Density and there are three options: Comfortable, Cozy and Compact. Gmail automatically adjusts to the mode based on not just the size of the screen but also the browser. However if the user prefers to change the view he can do so by manually choosing them in the settings.
- Comfortable / Cozy: This is automatically set for larger sized screens (Desktops / Laptops / Notebooks). On my laptop (15.4 inches), I get to see 12 mails at once without any scrolling.
- Compact: Users who believe in the phrase ‘The more the better’ will find this view to their liking. You get to see more mails at one go. I got to see 18 mails which is 50 % more mails than the comfortable view. When you adjust your browser size Gmail automatically switches between the two views based on whether you are maximizing it or minimizing it.
Today we see messaging applications flooding the market and in line with this phenomenon, Gmail has given its email threads an overhaul giving it a chat like feel with profile picture of each user involved in the conversation and a snippet of the message beneath the contact. The user tends to be more involved in the thread with such an appealing feel.
Users having a first look at the new design must be wondering where are the search options which was there as a hyperlink in the older interface but Gmail has decided to do away with those extra links and instead have included them within the search text box. To get the search options one needs to click on the down arrow within the search box and Bingo, you get the same options which you had earlier. Not sure whether they have changed anything as far as the accuracy/timing of search results.
We live in a HD world today and rightly so Gmail has upgraded its themes to include the high resolution ones. The images are courtesy istockphoto. Apart from a few themes which won’t be carried over to the new look, users can choose from a wide range of themes to jazz up their email experience.
It would be hard to believe if any major change done by Google does not involve ads which are their main source of revenue or probably their only source. So going by this trend it’s not surprising that Google has decided to place ads at the top instead of bottom previously. They are constantly trying to evolve the ads that show up as part of the emails.
The new design from Google has received a mixed reaction which is not surprising since it is really hard to satisfy everyone. Having said that, Google is slowly trying to unify all its products to have the same look and feel which is what every user wants. It all started with Google + followed by Docs and Reader. Although there are no new features which have got added , users should eventually get used to the new look. For those who haven’t yet shifted to the new look , they can do so by clicking on the ‘Switch to the new look’ at the bottom right corner. If you don’t like you can always revert back to the old look by clicking on the gears icon but as is clear from the option there it will be only temporary as Gmail will eventually roll this out for all the users in the coming few weeks. A day after Google released the new look for Gmail, they released an app for iPhone which turned out to be buggy and they were forced to remove it from the app store.