Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is adding Gmail to its short list of software products it is redesigning in the wake of launching its long-awaited Google+ social network.
One day after revealing tweaks to Google Search and Google Maps, the company said it is trying its hand at several interface updates to help strip out clutter. Google's first experiment for users is with two new themes -- a "dense" preview and regular preview -- in the Themes tab in Gmail settings.
As the names suggest, the dense theme is fairly cluttered and thick with information, while the straight-up preview includes more spacing between information.
Google noted that some updated themes will be "better suited to working in a dark environment, use a different color palette," or include illustrations.
"If you poke around you'll hopefully find a lot to like and a much cleaner, modern look but also few rough edges," explained Jason Cornwell, a Gmail user experience designer for Google.
The redesign shouldn't impact users much, at least not in a jarring fashion. The changes will occur slowly over the next few months because Google wants to absorb feedback from its roughly 200 million Gmail users to ensure a smooth transition into a new redesign.
Users can also expect Google Calendar to get a new look much sooner than that -- within the next few days. The list of Calendar changes include:
- The Quick add function is now under the down arrow next to the Create button
- Calendars selected for viewing in your My calendars and Other calendars lists will no longer display with a colored background; instead, only the arrows next to them will be colored.
- The Print and Refresh buttons are now icons rather than text links.
- Visual indicator icons will only show when the event is hovered over.
- The My calendars and Other calendars lists on the left are now collapsed by default and may be expanded using the small gray arrow.
- The mini month view calendar under the Create button is collapsible using the small gray arrow.
- The Save and Discard buttons and Back to calendar link are only available at the top of the event page, not the bottom.
Users who dislike the new look can click the gear icon to pick the classic look.
Finally, Google Apps, the suite that ties Gmail, Google Calendar and other apps together in one tidy cloud computing package, is also getting a facelift this summer.
See the changes, which include the aforementioned changes in the works for Gmail and Calendar and will be available on an opt-in/opt-out basis, here.
Google Apps users on the Rapid Release track will be able to access the updates first, followed by organizations on the Scheduled Release track.