Many of you may have recently had a mini freak-out session (just as I did) last week when you logged into your Gmail. Where did all my options go on the top of the page? How do I get to my Drive? What’s going on with these YouTube comments? So many questions, but only one answer: Google just made a major user experience update. Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent changes.
For many, the most notable changes to the interface will be found within Gmail. Google has been slowly rolling out their new tabbed email experience which separates your messages into the stock Primary, Social, and Promotions tabs. You can also add lots of other custom tabs if you like.
Many sites from Econsultancy to eMarketer have been debating the merits of these tabs. Some saying this is the death of e-mail marketing and others hailing it as the best concept either. One side says these tabs make it easier to bulk-delete promotional emails while the other argues that it adds value: people are only going to the promotional tab because they want to read these emails and are more receptive to your content.
You will also find several other features integrated more seamlessly into your Gmail experience. For instance, attachments now open directly in Gmail and allow you to save the item directly to you Google Drive account. You also have the ability to add events to your calendar or track packages without even opening the email. Google automatically sends the information to the correct app.
The most notable update to the Google Apps suite from a user experience perspective is the new location to access the apps from. Previously, you could find links to all your apps right at the top to the screen in that familiar, black navigation bar. Now you will find all your apps by hovering over and clicking on the small 9-box square in the top right corner of your Gmail account. Most of the apps work the same with only small updates to the functionality or interface.
YouTube seems to have faced the most controversial of the UI updates, and is seeing a lot of negative publicity over integrating Google+ into the comment functionality. Google wants all users to identify themselves with their Google+ accounts across all corners of the web. Why wouldn’t they? This integration will allow them to compile more accurate data about a user’s interests, and just maybe will eliminate some level of anonymous trolling that goes on around the web (my hopes, not necessarily Google’s).
The YouTube app also went through a complete overhaul by the app design team at Google. They provided several missing functions to the mobile user with a much more user-friendly video player and easier access to like and share options. Also, issues with auto-rotating the screen are corrected even going so far as to optimize the app to respond to larger screens on tablets.
So next time you log into your Gmail account, take some time to roam around the new layout and locate all your valuable Google assets. Although some of the changes may not seem intuitive yet, you will likely find that the added integration can become your new best friend and eliminate lots of saving, downloading, copying, and pasting in the future. Oh, and don’t forget – Google+ is not going anywhere so the sooner you give in, the better. How do you like this latest round of user experience updates?