Google's applications like Gmail, Camera, and Chrome are likely applications that came on your Android phone when you first purchased it. But unlike iOS where Apple has to ship an entire operating system update to update an application, Google's apps for Android can be updated right from Google Play. Google has been steadily updating their applications to take advantage of their new "Material Design" design principles that were shown off at Google I/O. With Android 5.0 Lollipop on the horizon, Google has to get the remaining applications up to date, and the latest application to recieve the new visual style is Gmail with its major update to version 5.0.

As you can see above, there's a lot of changes that come with the new Material Design interface. The most striking change is the the removal of the grey that was prevalent throughout the application. In the previous version, the color of an email preview changed to grey to indicate that the email had been read, while unread messages remained white. In the new design, the change between bolded or unbolded preview text indicates whether a message has been read. I personally find this to be much more aesthetically pleasing.

The header and status bar are now a nice moderately saturated red color that doesn't feel gaudy but brings more color into the interface. The circular button for composing a new email at the bottom also uses this red color. On the topic of circles, Google has begun to use circular contact photos throughout their applications, although in my case they just display the sender's first initial. If I had put in the effort to assign contact photos the new circles would display them where the squares previously did. 

Google has also redesigned the navigation drawer that houses your different inbox labels, and settings. The grey has been changed to white, and the top displays your cover photo from Google+ which seems to be a message from Google that you're supposed to change it from the default rainbow thing. 

The sliding drawer is a topic of debate right now because many applications implement it incorrectly, including many that are made by Google like the Hangouts application. Google's official guidelines state that the drawer is to slide in overtop of every other part of the interface except for the status bar. The new Gmail application implements this correctly, and I'm hopeful that every other Google application will be updated to adopt the proper design before Android Lollipop ships. It's very difficult to get developers to follow design guidelines when you don't set a good example with your own first party applications, and the navigation drawer in Hangouts has multiple issues with its design when compared to Google's guidelines. 

The last big change in the application is the support for adding email accounts from other providers like Yahoo, iCloud Mail, Outlook, etc. Any email account that supports IMAP/POP or Exchange can be added. This is a great feature as it eliminates the need to have to add every non-Google email account to the standard Email application which isn't given as much attention as Google's own Gmail app.

Source: Android Police

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  • Samus - Saturday, November 1, 2014 - link

    Samsung also has the better calendar. I actually took the Touchwiz calendar APK to put on my Motorola...the default Android calendar is just crap. Reply
  • SpartanJet - Sunday, November 2, 2014 - link

    I agree 100%. I use Samsung calendar because I don't use ANY of that Ad companies services so I use Outlook and the Samsung calendar app will use outlook to sync my calendar with my Windows desktop and Windows 8.1 tablets. Its perfect for the person who uses Microsoft services stuck on an Adroid phone. Reply
  • av911 - Saturday, November 1, 2014 - link

    Replying to Ortanon's post:

    "I bet there's still no goddamn Select All feature."
    Reply
  • Exodite - Saturday, November 1, 2014 - link

    So, like everything else "updated" to material design you get... less information, using more space and with the eye-boiling contrast of white on black!

    Thanks but no thanks.
    Reply
  • ant6n - Saturday, November 1, 2014 - link

    +1 Reply
  • Ortanon - Saturday, November 1, 2014 - link

    I much prefer a clean look to "data density." But in the spirit of choice, I would support a "clean or dense" option feature. Reply
  • zepi - Saturday, November 1, 2014 - link

    Indeed. This looks absolutely horrendous. It's not like the old one was crowded, but this feels like severe step back in usability.

    5 email on one page? Come on.
    Reply
  • Ortanon - Saturday, November 1, 2014 - link

    Two spaces where emails would be are taken up by temporary alerts. It looks like the same number of emails would show. Reply
  • Exodite - Sunday, November 2, 2014 - link

    It's more than just the alerts though. Compare the space used by the first mail under those alerts with the corresponding one in the old view, you can clearly see the space used extends both above and below the old view.

    The title bar also uses more space, with both it and the individual messages containing less information.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Sunday, November 2, 2014 - link

    As Exodite points out the header and the messages are slightly larger. I chopped the image in paint, without the alerts you've room for 6 messages at once vs 7 in the old version. Reply

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