As the retail debut of Google’s new Nexus devices approaches, consolidation and redesign are the big themes of the search giant’s recent updates to its Android suite of apps. Hot on the heels of the retooled Hangouts with built-in Voice functionality, Google is prepping a version of its Gmail client which takes aesthetic cues from the recently detailed Android 5.0 Lollipop and integrates third-party email accounts, Android Police has learned.
The upgraded Gmail, tentatively numbered version 5.0, packs a visual punch. White highlights compliment bold primary colors like red and blue, a palette which stands in contrast to the decidedly neutral grays of past versions. The hallmarks of material design, Google’s term for the user interface philosophy behind Android Lollipop, are also present; immediately apparent are simplified icons, hovering buttons, a redesigned slide-out menu with more spacing between text, and gradient backgrounds behind email profile images. The effect is a simpler, far less busy design than those of previous incarnations.
The UI tweaks are nice, but the undoubted highlight of Gmail 5.0 is inbuilt support for third-party email providers. Android has long segmented accounts, relegating users to a secondary Email app which has rarely maintained feature parity with the search giant’s own service. Google’s solution, it seems, is to officially deprecate the Email app in favor of inboxes within Gmail. Judging by video demoing the feature, accounts that use POP3, IMAP, or Exchange protocols – like Outlook and Yahoo, for example – will be accessible from the slide-out menu with a swipe.
Perhaps the most important question, of course, is when Gmail 5.0 will be released. That isn’t addressed in the report explicitly, but Android Police believes Google may wait until Android Lollipop has been finalized. Sadly, iOS users may miss out on the redesign; no mention was made of a newer app for iPhone or iPad. That doesn’t rule out an update down the road, though.