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May 12, 2014

Drastic Changes Reportedly Coming To Google’s Gmail User Interface

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Google is testing out some major changes to the desktop browser-based version of Gmail in an attempt to make it more similar to the mobile version of the email client, various media outlets reported over the weekend.

According to Russell Holly of, who obtained images of what the mobile Gmail interface might look like on a desktop browser, the new version “is clearly designed to function across a variety of screen sizes without losing functionality” and features a “fly-in menu system” that replaces “the crazy tab system that was bolted into Gmail last year.”

Both the menu tree and the Hangouts interface are fully collapsible, added Slashgear’s Chris Davies, and shortcuts for composing new emails and setting reminders are located on the opposite side of the inbox. Reports suggest that multiple draft emails can be temporarily stored there, which will make it easier for users to go from one message to another.

“This setup… supports shrinking the window down so you can glance at your Inbox whenever you need it,” Holly explained in a May 9 article. “The bars that stretch across the display look a little awkward at first, but when you keep in mind how much information can be displayed in those bars it is a setup that could prove useful to anyone who needs a more detailed scan of their Inbox when hunting for something.”

“The email and reminder creation bubbles at the bottom right hand corner of the display are nearly identical to leaks we’ve seen from multiple sources for future Google products, signaling a dramatic shift in how new functions are created within mobile and desktop apps,” he added. “It’s a simple UI tool that lets you store multiple unfinished messages or reminders in a sort of ToDo list if you are so inclined.”

Also gone is Gmail’s “Stars” system, which will be replaced by a new “pinning” system that will allow users to select important messages to emphasize their importance, PCMag writer David Murphy said. In addition, a new sorting button placed at the top of the Inbox will allow people to place these pinned emails to the top of the screen, or use the more conventional chronological sorting method.

Holly said that there is currently no release date for any of these new features, and that there is no guarantee that Google will not make additional changes before granting the public access to this new Gmail interface. However, after using the new client for a few minutes, he said that it is clear that the Mountain View, California-based tech giant is hoping to make radical changes to their email service.

However, Davies said that it is “almost guaranteed” that the changes will be “met with reticence by a fair chunk of Gmail users, who have grown accustomed to their familiar inbox.” The reaction to the message composing interface changes last year “forced Google to add back in a full-screen compose option,” he explained.

“In comparison, this UI update is considerably greater, and while it will presumably have usability benefits for those accessing their email across tablet, notebook, and desktop browsers, it may take a while for some to recognize the advantages,” the Slashgear reporter added.