Soon after Gmail received a Material You redesign on Android last year, the bottom bar was shrunk, and Google is now taking things a step further by removing the descriptive labels.
Since launch, the vast majority of Gmail for Android users have had “Mail,” “Chat,” “Spaces,” and “Meet” labels underneath the bottom bar icons. A few users had a version without any text, and this design is now widely rolling out. Visually, this is already the case on Gmail for iPad with its pre-Material You design language.
The Material 3 guidelines for the navigation bar consider the text label to be optional. However, Google cautions that “icon meaning should always be unambiguous and accessible for all users.” That’s more or less the case for Gmail at this point with most people just using the first tab.
However, the bottom bar goes against best practices in a different manner. You’re supposed to “always use the default height for navigation bars as a minimum,” which is the taller one introduced by Material You. Both bottom bar shrinks break that guidance, while you’re technically not supposed to use a bottom bar if you only have two sections (three is the minimum), which is the default case when Chat and Spaces are disabled.
In Gmail’s case, it does let you see more of your inbox and that’s always welcome, but the latest vertical savings are quite minimal.
This change started appearing for more people in the past week, but it’s not yet widely rolled out. It’s a server-side change, and we’re seeing it alongside the latest version of the app (2022.08..07.x).
More on Gmail:
- Gmail web search will now surface Spaces from your Google Workspace
- Google brings Workspace Individual tier to Europe
- You can download Hangouts history via Google Takeout until January 1
- Gmail proceeding with pilot that exempts political emails from spam after FEC approval
Author: Abner Li