Gmail's New look: What's Hot, What's Not

Google kicked off the month of November, with a series of changes to its popular  Gmail service, Gmail app for iOS and they've also started offering business pages for Google+. Google has been previewing the new face of Gmail for sometime now and we knew big changes were coming. Google has always been on a roll with frequent tweaks to its products here and there, so naturally we waited patiently to see what was next. However, we don’t expect Gmailers to just wake up elated to their daily dose of Gmail, which has received almost a complete facelift. Obviously, mixed reactions were bound to come by – ‘why did Google do this?’ ‘Argh…I hate it!’ ‘I love the new look’ and so on. 

As always, Google has an answer for it, all. The motive behind the changes is to familiarize users with all Google products (read Google+) through a standard platform. So, after using it for a while, we’ve jotted down the changes that we found hot and also the ones that are not.

Switch to the new look
The right lower corner shows an option to switch to the new look. You can either switch to the new look or continue with the old look. We recommend switch because Google clearly states that eventually the new look will be rolling out for everyone. 

What’s Hot
Display Density:
A glance at the new Gmail, and you’ll know it’s about a non-cluttered, tidy look. Display Density is the feature that lets you further customize the spacing between your content on-screen. The ‘lower’ Gear on the top left side takes you to options like Cozy, Comfortable and Compact. The first two options are for larger screens, while the third one's for smaller screens. Basically, these options let you choose the space between labels, messages and even around the inbox. The spacing can be increased or decreased as per your reading and screen requirements. The Compact option squeezes in more emails, a good option for those with small screens. 'Comfortable' increases the white spacing and neatly displays content on a large screen. Boggled over how it could work on different screen sizes? Well, Gmail employs automatic data adjustment ability depending upon varied screen sizes.

adjust the spacing

Adjust the spacing


Gmail calls it Conversations, a new name to the threaded messages, which you are already familiar with. However, this time it has redesigned the emails structure giving it a complete chat-like view. Your entire conversation with a friend or a group is seen in the form of threads and is all right there, for easy access. Gmail will also notice profile picture section while conversing, which is similar to the one that can be enabled in Chat using Gmail Labs. We know not many may like to see longer email threads, but all in all, the feature seems refreshing.

Whether Google’s core business is threatened by Apple's Siri or not, the revamped Search feature is something to look forward to. The two Search buttons (Search the Web and Search Mail) have been replaced by one magnifying glass.  As you begin typing a word, two faint options reading ‘Search the web’ and ‘Search Mail’ appear along with the searched word. The search option has been customised to help those with a long list of emails. Filters and other options can be accessed using a tiny arrow in the Search box itself.


Neat look:
'Neat’ and white’ are two terms taken with a pinch of salt by Gmailers these days. Gmail calls this new look neat, while some users argue that it has just gotten whiter. We agree... with both sentiments. Google has tried replacing the text imprinted buttons with icons. You can see the button labels only by hovering over them with the mouse. The Mail button tucks in Contacts and Tasks. Hover over 1 to 50 mails and you’ll see a box appear that takes you to the previous mail. Icons also appear only when necessary. You’ll even notice that Gmail has taken space constraint on screens quite seriously. For the look, white background with faint gray makes it appear all-white.


New tool bar:
This could be an arguable feature, as not many have accepted the sudden change of text printed buttons into icons viz. Archive, Delete, Spam and Labels, among others. But don’t we love icons on our phones and tablets? Evidently, this change by Gmail is to diversify its mailing platform, whether you use it on large desktop screens or on small mobile handsets. For now, you can hover over the icons and know exactly what it’s meant to do in case the image seems a bit confusing, which is extremely doubtful. The icons are not just to enhance the look, but also for providing a non-cluttered interface, which is clearly seen as some icons appear only when required. 

Icons replace text

Icons replace text


What’s Not
So, if you’ve switched to the new look and we tell you to go to the ‘Gear’ icon and adjust some settings, your answer would probably be ‘which gear icon?’ The reason is there are two gear icons, one on the extreme right top corner and the other a little below it towards the left. Why do we need two Gear icons, Google?
As aforesaid, the background is white, while the markings are light gray giving it an all "white" look. So, we had to pick darker themes for a better view. Although there are new HD themes, it's annoying that we can't comfortably use some older options. The customisable option also seems to have been removed and that was quite new, too. Some of the HD images tend to create a problem for viewing items on the left hand side of the mail section like your chat window as the backgrounds counter text visibility. We couldn't find an option to adjust the text colours. They're all presets, for now.

Tidy look

Tidy look


Whilst providing a cleaner look, the side scroll bar carries another scroll bar within. As of now you can either view Chat or labels, but don’t we want to use them simultaneously, at times? It’s even worse when someone (read me) has several gadgets enabled, which take their position on the left side bar. Now, we know there is an option to enable the right side chat, but everyone isn’t comfortable with it.

Icons replace text

Icons replace text


In a nut shell, Gmail serves some good changes along with some that may take a while to get used to and some you might not want to get used to, altogether. Though you can switch back to the old look temporarily, Google will be forcing the changes upon you, anyway. It’s about getting familiar with the changes and just a matter of acceptance. 'New-Gmail-look' haters can just hope that the search giant decides upon a Gmail Labs feature that lets you continue with the traditional look. But give it a shot, and tell us what you think.

Published Date: Nov 10, 2011 01:51 pm | Updated Date: Nov 10, 2011 01:51 pm