Last week saw the release of the production-signed Gmail 5.0 APK. The latest update for the upcoming Android Lollipop version of Gmail. The downloadable APK file can be found here, courtesy of AndroidPolice.
The release has come as somewhat unexpectedly soon after the newly designed Gmail interface Inbox hit. Inbox being an invite only download that provided an alternative to the Gmail app that seemed to combine a typical task management apps like keep and your typical Gmail app. This came with a plethora of new features such as being able to pin important emails, snoozing email notifications and a revitalising of the to-do list feature.
While Gmail 5.0 is a replacement for the stock Gmail app, elements of the Inbox design are definitely apparent. Specifically the sidebar design and the ‘compose’ icon being in a far more suitable position than in previous Gmail iterations.
The general thesis adopted by lollipop is being referred to by google as ‘material design’, a combination of simple, uniform and colourful aesthetics and usability. The new aesthetic seems to be more of a refinement than an actual overhaul. As you can see, the UI remains very much the same on the main screen with only the banner at the top seeing any significant change. Both the compose and settings icons have been moved.
The compose icon has instead been moved to a far more easily accessible position. Some might see this change as a little random and out of place but with the trend of phones growing in size, it is becoming increasingly harder to reach the top banner for many users with smaller hands. In this sense it is a very welcome addition. The settings however, have been moved to the sidebar.
Speaking of which, the sidebar itself has undergone a few small changes. Again, these changes are mainly visual but the far more uniform look is if nothing visually appealing.
The changes aren’t only cosmetic. The most worthy feature of note is the ability to add other email accounts such as your Personal IMAP/POP email (Your ISP email, Yahoo, Outlook etc) as well as enterprise and business email accounts.
This is especially good news for those who prefer Gmail and most importantly Nexus owners. Gmail effectively renders other Email apps obsolete, and having a device that requires a Google account for basic functionality. This new movement by Google aims to eliminate the issue of having to have two separate email apps on their flagship devices. Whether they will eliminate the email app altogether remains to be seen.
All in all, this is a very solid effort by Google to streamline the base app we all know. The small design changes here and there are nothing but a welcome addition and the addition of multiple, none Gmail accounts is the icing on the cake.
Android 5.0 (lollipop) will be coming to a variety of android devices within the next coming weeks with the nexus devices being first on the list.