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'A Fresh, Clean Look.' Gmail Is About To Get a Makeover (fortune.com) 149

Google says it is working on a big refresh for Gmail on the web. From a report: The upgrade was revealed in a message from Google to administrators of G Suite accounts -- G Suite being the suite of Google services that organizations can use on their own web domains, rather than Google's. The message stated that the changes would be coming to consumer Gmail accounts, as well as G Suite accounts. Google said the refresh would include not only a "fresh, clean look for Gmail on the web," but also easy ways to access other Google services, such as Google Calendar, from the Gmail web app. The company recently started winding down its Chrome apps for all platforms but Google's own Chrome OS. Windows, Mac and Linux users are now being encouraged to instead use Google's web apps, and it's only logical that those interfaces are now getting upgraded to include the functionality that would otherwise be lost. The Verge has screenshots of the new interface.

'A Fresh, Clean Look.' Gmail Is About To Get a Makeover

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  • What the fuck. No! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkRookie ( 5030953 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @10:06AM (#56423913)
    Don't touch GMail. It is your only product still worth half a damn. Your Material Design system sucks. No one but you wants this refresh
    Anyone have a different/better free email service.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The screenshots all have two mails in the inbox, so it's hard to tell how well mails are separated in the list.

      I hope they include a dark mode. I turn down the brightness and contrast on my monitors anyway, I don't need a bright light shining in my face all day.

    • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @11:50AM (#56424871) Homepage Journal

      I'm mostly anti-change on websites, but... I'm not with you on Material Design. At all. It's a great system that fixes most of the crap that UX designers have been foisting on us. It has faults, but it brings back the use of 3D after years of this obsession with flat UIs, it's easy to see what's touchable and what isn't, it works well on both mobile and desktop UIs (so you're not having to switch between two languages for icons for example), and it's pretty clean and elegant using - something I wouldn't say has ever been true of GMail.

      I saw the screenshots. They don't look worse than GMail does already. I'm hopeful this is positive change, and, for older hardware, that they leave the original UI (not the current one, but the "HTML mode" thing) available for those who need something lighter.

      • OK. I would like some examples of these.
        I don't see 3d beyond the floating button and those terrible cards. I always have issues on what is selectable or not.
        It might be clean looking, but it is not elegant. Everything is way to large.
      • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @12:39PM (#56425387)

        I wouldn't have a major problem with it if I could understand the purpose, and if they would stop removing features.

        I don't understand the purpose of a phone-friendly gmail web page when they have gmail apps everywhere.

        One example of a removed feature is when they revamped the Google Voice webpage, they removed quite a few things - but most notably for me was the ability to email voicemail messages... this was useful to me because our home phone uses Google Voice and I could send my wife's messages to her.

        In general, the information content is far lower with the redesign. Good for phones, where I don't use it. Bad for desktops/laptops with high-res monitors.

    • Just when you thought you knew where everything was. Time to windows 8 the interface.

    • by Merk42 ( 1906718 )

      No one but you wants this refresh

      I do/don't want X, therefore everyone does/doesn't want X!
      Everyone thinks like I do and if they don't they are in the wrong!

    • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @12:45PM (#56425457) Homepage Journal

      I agree, Material Design doesn't solve any problems for me. Gmail is an app that displays a lot of information, and as near as I can tell, designers HATE having more than one piece of information on the screen at a time. I worked for an enterprise software development company and our designer kept trying to push our app from being an information rich, wonderful app for IT staff, to this Uber-inspired single-use, single datapoint dashboard. It's been a continuous disaster and the company largely failed due to the design team's insistence on transforming the application in to the single-use java app that designers apparently train for in school.
       
      I get that many users can't concentrate on a lot of data, but gmail is well laid out and doesn't need a change. Microsoft effectively nailed the email client workflow back in Outlook Express 3 and everyone has been using that template since Windows 3.1. I see no reason to change it at this point. A lot of design gets made/created, it seems, simply because designers need to validate their job(s) at the company. There are a lot of badly designed apps out there, but gmail is not one of them.
       
      Google News website is another good example of the design team running roughshod over an amazing data spigot with all sorts of levers and buttons hidden just under the surface, and ripping all that out turning it in to a dumb cell phone app that you are allowed to access from your PC.
       
      Google's design team needs to work on supporting emerging apps, not redesigning the successful ones. Google's webapps such as gmail are successful almost entirely due to their existing design.

      • A perfect example: Google Finance.

        It was fantastic, and I usually had it open in a tab or two, 24/7. The new version is quite literally useless. It no longer serves any purpose.

        It's the first time I've migrated from anything back to something from Yahoo! Yahoo Finance is back on my screen. Never thought I'd see the day.

      • Displaying lots of information in a sensible way is hard work. And it's the sort of hard work that most UX designers are not equipped to handle. Just because UX design is one discipline of visual communication does not automatically lead to other disciplines like data visualization, at least not without further training.

      • designers HATE having more than one piece of information on the screen at a time.

        Philistine! Even one is clutter.

    • I use gmx.com if you are not afraid of German, go for gmx.de. especially with the new provacy laws coming going for EUbased solution might be good.

      • I don't know German but I was able to go through the site and find and compare some of the services. But when I tried to sign up for a free trial of ProMail the redirect didn't work (same goes for the FreeMail sign up). And I don't know enough German to work around it, other than maybe my browser is blocking some cookies from known ad websites.

    • I stopped using it the day I saw ads popping up on websites about something private a friend had emailed me for help with.
    • Or maybe even go backward to how it was in 2005, when you could write an email in a box that was larger than a tiny square and each email in a group had an actual noticable border between then.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Anyone here use Inbox?

  • User control (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ardmhacha ( 192482 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @10:08AM (#56423945)

    "Google is implementing smart replies for Gmail on the web, the same feature from mobile Gmail that provides suggestions to quickly reply to emails."

    I don't like that but if is easy to switch off I could live with it.

    • Nope. You cannot switch it off.
      • You can turn it off in the Android app: Settings -> [your email account] -> Smart Reply. I would be surprised if the web version is different.
        • OH SHIT. Thank you for that. I was looking for that options.
          • by Anonymous Coward

            How hard would you say you were looking if you didn't look in Settings?

            • In all honesty, not very hard.
              I tend to only read and delete messages with the phone apps. So this was more of annoying feature than one getting in my way.
              Do the composing on the web version.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Web apps never function properly unless I connect to the internet. How useless is that? I have to shut down my application whenever my mom needs to use the phone.
    Plus I like to use my own computer and storage instead of googles.

    • I understand your point, but I don't really expect email to work unless it's connected to the internet anyway.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yes, but email only needs to connect for a few seconds.

      • Email is perfectly fine as asynchronous if you have a good caching client.

      • GMail Offline works just fine for me, you only need to be connected to the internet every once in a while.

        also, speaking of redesigns, I kinda prefer GMail Offline's to the online one. apparently they had to come up with a third one :)

    • Web apps never function properly unless I connect to the internet. How useless is that? I have to shut down my application whenever my mom needs to use the phone.

      Heh, that made me nostalgic of the 1990's. My great-aunt yelling at me to end the call as somebody might be trying to call us. Almost all my Internet-ing being by e-mail because of that. And my quick connects through the day to send and receive POP3 emails with Pegasus Mail. Good times! (Not really, but hindsight-fueled nostalgia makes them feel so.)

  • Knowing them (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2018 @10:10AM (#56423967)

    I sure can't wait for an oversized design full of useless whitespace, flat design and no affordances with 50% of the content hidden.

    • Considering that Google originally became famous for having a web page that was mostly white space (and it was a good thing, too), you shouldn't be surprised.
    • Re:Knowing them (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vtcodger ( 957785 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @10:29AM (#56424165)

      You left out the use of low contrast colors including, but not limited to, light blue on a white background and the even less readable white on light blue..

      In any case, it's a moot point. Despite having DSL fast enough to support 3 TVs streaming different programming simultaneously, gmail and Google docs are so slow and clunky from my location that I long since set up IMAP and POP interfaces for my gmail.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @10:12AM (#56423987) Journal
    Why these guys casually change the look and feel without worrying about users?

    Using wordless icons makes sense in a 5 inch mobile screen. Here I have two 24 inch full def screens, and I need to guess "will this create a new message? or this? Or will it reply all? Where is that stupid gear icon? Oh, they changed it to ham-sandwich. Now ham-sandwich is gone and we got kebab. There is a + in a circle. Or sometimes there is a pencil. "

    There is no clear demarkation of where the clickable area ends. There is no delineation of clickable areas. Who designs these swipe gestures? swipe up down left right pinch and expand roll ....

    They will not rest till we all spend all our days learning new GUI every day.

    • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @10:56AM (#56424391) Homepage

      There is a reason why the unemployment rate is hovering around historical lows.

      They're taking everyone who couldn't hold a normal job and turning them into web developers.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      wordless icons makes sense in a 5 inch mobile screen. Here I have two 24 inch full def screens, and I need to guess

      You're not their intended audience. My guess is that their intended audience is the larger mass of users who primarily use a 5 inch mobile screen and see these types of upgrades as a form of entertainment. Small screen productivity tools is something of an oxymoron.

    • Why these guys casually change the look and feel without worrying about users?

      This is the funny one. You assume this isn't driven by the absolutely insane amount of data that Google collects on users.

      It's like the people blowing their top everytime their favourite feature in Windows disappears while at the same time complaining about telemetry. Well guess what, if only the dumb people turn on telemetry and only the dumb people use computers in a dumb way, expect your software to be dumber with the next update.

  • by thinkwaitfast ( 4150389 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @10:12AM (#56423995)
    nothing ever seems to change

    If it does it's for the worse, seems it's just a modern curse

    --Oingo Boingo

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2018 @10:14AM (#56424023)

    Dear Google,

    Please don't touch the plain HTML web client.

    It's the one part of Gmail which is fast and efficient and doesn't need Javascript.

    Thanks. (Signed, a guy who just wants to send email without having to fight a "modern" UI.)

  • While composing if you press TAB then the [Send] button will get focus which is to be expected.

    Except Gmail has this annoying "feature/bug" that it does NOT colorize the [Send] button with a different background color -- except with a thin dotted rectangle that is bloody hard to see. It is too easy to then press Enter thinking you are going to indent the current line except you accidently fire off the email. Thank God for the Undo at the top.

    Since Google still doesn't understand good UI here is a console snippet that will color-code the [Send] button red when it has focus.


    for( var i = 0; i < document.styleSheets.length; i++ )
            for( var j = 0; j < document.styleSheets[i].cssRules.length; j++ )
                    if( document.styleSheets[i].cssRules[j].selectorText === ".T-I-atl:focus" )
                            document.styleSheets[i].cssRules[j].style.backgroundImage = "-webkit-linear-gradient(top,#F48,#F00)";

    WTF is Gmail being re-designed when they don't even understand _basic_ UI ?

    • To cover up the fact they haven't made a decent product in years if not decades.
      Its the same with Apple and M$ at the least. Lets shiny up are stuff without fixing it. The users won't know and we will get paid.
    • Why the F is the class for the Send button named .T-I-atl, that is the question.

      I will welcome any Gmail redesign that will rename classes to readable, understandable English words accurately reflecting their functions.

    • I don't think you need to prefix "-webkit-" on linear gradients anymore.

    • WTF is Gmail being re-designed when they don't even understand _basic_ UI ?

      Is this a trick question?

  • by methano ( 519830 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @10:18AM (#56424061)
    Google just finally killed their old Finance page. The new one is a complete POS. Let's hope the guys in charge of that 'improvement" don't get anywhere near Gmail.
  • After years of terrible UI....Google decided to change GMail interface to be laid out like Outlook has been since 1995. LOL wtf?
  • by DatbeDank ( 4580343 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @10:30AM (#56424171)

    The jack offs already ruined calendar, now they're ruining Gmail?

    Change for the sake of change. I hate it! Silicon valley and it's adhd on design changes ffs. Let it go! If it ain't broke don't fix it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I used to be able to add events in the calendar using natural language, like "meeting tomorrow at 2" now I have to fill in a freaking form! Idiots! And this comes from a company that is presumably pushing AI...

    • They have to ruin it so we can be ready for them to "fix it" using AMP.

      Just like Classic Coke came after New Coke, but really, wasn't the same at all.

    • Change for the sake of change.

      Nope. Change for sake of bottom line. No one spends money on changes like this if all it did was create change. The reality is that stale interfaces reflect poorly on the bottom line. Pissing a few people off in the interest of remaining "fresh" actually promotes business ... unless you're Snapchat, they fucked that up royally.

  • Anyone knows a freemail provider I could move to?

  • Graphic designers can fall into the trap of thinking that their work can somehow change the world through good design, so they get tempted to try to apply that to everything.... Yet not realize when it didn't work or that (amount of effort) != (amount of good).

    In this case Google's designers have gone crazy. I am absolutely incensed with them for rolling out this ridiculous tile-laden, cluttered redesign of Google Flights, for example: https://www.google.com/flights [google.com]

    when the old version was clean, f
    • It's probably more generational than you realize. What is easy to parse visually is whichever is in the more familiar style. If you primarily use other apps designed in a similar way, then a redesign in that style will make whatever you're using more parse-able.

      I'm early millennial and I've never really used Google Flights. When looking at both, I think the first one is much easier to understand, even if the more advanced features aren't available until after you search. Think about the "save icon" as a

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Over they ears we have learned that software hits its functionality high point... but the company still employs people who are supposed to make it better.
    After the high point all they can do is make it worse. It is like paying cooks to make cookies and after they have the perfect dough, you tell them to keep adding ingredients. "Dog ownership is trending right now so please add stuff that is dog related to the dough.", "DIY bathroom fixes are trending right now so please add something toilet related to the

    • by Anonymous Coward

      People who use Microsoft software in a more complex ways also tend to turn off all the tracking and do not send bug reports. So Microsoft gets all the tracking from people who do simple stuff and bug reports about things from the vast majority of people who do simple stuff. I have no clue how they take this to mean making the simple stuff accessible and hiding away the more complex features and more complex things don't quite work as expected... or at all would escape them...

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @11:05AM (#56424455)

    Fucking "designers" are getting way too full of themselves. Look, I grant that good industrial design is a hugely useful and can add a lot of value to a product. But WAY too many products these days (software especially) have changes for the sake of changes so designers can collect a paycheck and keep busy. My smartphone has WAY too many applications with needlessly obtuse interface decision because the "designer" thought they looked cool or wanted things to be needlessly minimalistic. It's function following form when it should be the other way around.

    It seems pretty clear that usability testing is no longer a thing in software interface design. I am SO tired of incomprehensible icons, unintuitive gestures, blind navigation spaces, hidden design elements, lack of written labels, inconsistent interfaces, and needless changes to perfectly functional software. I hate web pages that put information that should fit on one screen in a huge page forcing me to scroll endlessly over needlessly large graphics that convey little information. (Apple I'm look at you here)

    • This is why I've used Netscape for the last 20 years. I've grown accustomed to its face, while everyone plays *follow the leader*... over the cliff as far as I care.

  • I hate it when companies spin dumbing down as cleaning up.

  • fresh clean look? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2018 @11:23AM (#56424619)

    Fresh and Clean look == More white space, new icons with no labels, no clear clickable areas, flat blue on white color scheme you can't change.....

    I fuckin hate this new flat shit

  • Sometimes I think these UI guys are sitting around like this scene from Total Recall. https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
  • Fuck Webmail! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by macraig ( 621737 ) <mark@a@craig.gmail@com> on Thursday April 12, 2018 @11:32AM (#56424705)

    To hell with that. I use Thunderbird, and for good reason. It's one extra measure of control for me, one less for Google.

    • I'm not sure which bugs me more, the fact that Thunderbird, clunky as it feels, is better than Web gmail, or the fact that I expect this "upgrade" to make web gmail even worse.

    • Yeah my phone and PC email clients don't care what they do to the browser interface, I'll never see it.
    • To hell with that. I use alpine and fetchmail, and for good reason. It's one extra measure of control for me. And it's just as fast as it's always been.

  • What for? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OneHundredAndTen ( 1523865 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @12:36PM (#56425353)
    While I have no vested interest in Gmail, using it sporadically and for nothing really all that important, I resent this penchant for GUI makeovers just for the sake of it. I am already familiar with the interface; I do not have the need or desire to become familiar with a new interface, which probably will allow me to do the same things, with pretty much the same level of ease or difficulty, only in a different way. I'd rather devote my time to learning other, more interesting and personally rewarding things. I am all for change and innovation, but with a purpose other than just change and innovation.
    • What makes you think you will be able to do the same things?

      They monitor what features most (dumb) users uses. If they don't use something, it must be clutter an goes.

      I expect them to remove Labels.

    • I resent this penchant for GUI makeovers just for the sake of it.

      As I said elsewhere, nothing is just for the sake of it. It's to prevent appearing stale which in turn affects the bottom line. You may not like it but the ultimate fact is that a redesign is required to boost up use in any platform. Piss off a few people in return for new and returning customers is just part of a product technology lifecycle.

  • Same monkeys, new tree
  • "The new Gmail We intercept even more of your personal data."

  • If they are going to make gmail as slow as their recently redesigned Calendar, I will be mad. I hate the slower calendar web page. It was better before. I really need to accelerate setting up my own groupware server. Any ideas for which open source projects I should try?

    • by chrish ( 4714 )

      If you find decent groupware that isn't Exchange, please write up an article about it. I feel gross using AD and Exchange in a mostly-Mac shop.

      It was like that when I got here!

  • Malibu Stacy has a New Hat!

    How else could crap like this get voted up to the front page?! Somebody! Please! Tell me!

  • Any user interface that changes is automatically bad in my opinion. Innovation is a barrier to us mundane computer users that want to do a few basic tasks then move on with our life.

  • UI designers are a cancer on the industry, and the death knell for so many formerly great applications. :(

  • Google should take a long hard look at its employee base and try to figure out who is behind the "remove functionality and flatten interface to win over young children and the elderly" campaign. They're destroying their products one by one.

  • You gotta be crazy to use a "free" email service for anything. Email is $2/month.
  • Will we finally be able to do simple things like sort by sender or subject? (and no filtering by either of those two is not the same thing)
  • Every time Google "improves" one of their products with a UI, it typically ends up:

    1) Removing useful features
    2) Reducing user customization
    3) Hiding other features
    4) Replacing things with stupid icons that mean nothing
    5) Generally making things non-intuitive
    6) Includes no help or manual
    7) Adding more "social" sh** that I don't want and can't remove

    I don't know about the typical user, but don't want "clean", I want "useful", "customization", and "powerful."

    Oh, and it is not just Google, either...

  • Will the issue of getting OTHER peoples emails in my Gmail inbox be fixed? If not, I still won't take them seriously as a useful service. It's for that reason I'd never trust them with sensitive emails. No telling WHO would get my email. This NEVER happens with the other two services I use, ONLY Gmail. Their algorithm is seriously borked.

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