Gmail with Material Design

I was just thinking about Material Design within Google’s own apps, and it occurred to me that at least in my case, the Gmail app would never look like the screenshots on the web.

For example, the screenshot below was taken from CNET and it surely looks nice (Material Design on right, current design on left).

NewImage

However, my Gmail account on my Android phone actually looks like this (yes, I only use my Gmail account to sign up for newsletters and mailing lists. I never use it for communicating with someone I know, but you get the idea);

Screenshot 2014 07 02 20 13 05

When the current Gmail cannot find a photo, it uses the first letter of the sender’s name instead. This is totally ugly, and what’s more, completely useless.

I wonder how Material Design solves this…

Or maybe it’s a setting deep in the menus…

I think we have to keep in mind that when we communicate with close friends, we tend not to use email anymore; we use messaging services, Twitter or Facebook. For these accounts, we often have photos. Emails are for work, mailing lists, notifications, etc. We normally don’t have photos for these. At least, I don’t.

To come to a good design, designers have to understand how the product will be used, in what context and with whom. At least, I think that is how good designers are supposed to approach problems.