Google is in the middle of a massive services overhaul right now; for example, you might notice that suddenly, you need a Google+ account to weigh in on YouTube videos. Part of that process is an overhaul of GMail apps, starting with, of course, the Android version. And since I’m one of the lucky updaters to get it first, I took a look to see what changed.

Getting Carded

If you use Google Now, you’ll be familiar with the look; it’s the card layout. For those who have better things to do than keep up with website design, the card layout essentially puts each message on a flat white rectangle, so you can see who sent it, get a preview of the message, and so on, in one place. It also makes following a conversation thread a lot easier.

Checks And Balances

Aside from that, there are only two changes that one would define as “noticeable”, although Google seems to have done a little minor tweaking under the hood; Gmail on my Nexus 7 feels like it’s operating just a little bit more smoothly, although it was hardly a rough experience before. The first are checkmarks, which replace the little headshot on a message and make it easier to track which messages you’re about to junk, and the second is that it’ll alert you if your device is out of sync with your account.

A Solid Update


It’s nothing earth-shattering, really, although I’m sure you’ll hear a lot of grousing about it between now and six weeks from now, which is when everybody forgets there was ever an old layout and keeps happily clicking. It’s just Google taking a good app and improving it in a few minor, mostly cosmetic ways; if you’re using Gmail on an Android device, you’re probably going to be quite happy with it.

Dan Seitz

Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.