Now that the insane week of Google app updates has passed (gotta love those Rollout Wednesdays, right?), I've had some time to dig into the APKs and have found a number of interesting things in some of them.

We'll start with Gmail, which received a fairly significant Card UI update with version 4.6.

wm_Screenshot_2013-09-25-10-51-27

Ads are coming to Gmail

The most significant under-the-hood and probably not active yet addition to Gmail 4.6 is ads. Yup, ads are most definitely coming to Gmail for Android which managed to stay ad-free all this time, unlike its web counterpart.

If you remember, Gmail on the web contains multiple ads along with the new format that looks like email messages in the Promotions folder. I'm not sure exactly what kind of ads we're going to get here - whether it'll be just the ones that look like emails or more generic ones - but here are multiple references to ads that I've found during the teardown. You be the judge.

<string name="ad">AD</string>
<string name="ad_will_not_save">Will not save ad as message</string>
<string name="ad_will_save">Will save ad as message</string>
<string name="ad_dismissed">Ad dismissed</string>

The above appears to suggest that you'll be able to save ads as messages. Like an ad? Save it, and it'll become part of your inbox. Don't like it, and it'll get dismissed. Very interesting, isn't it?

To support ads, a whole brand new library was added called... ads:

com/google/android/gm/ads/

Inside, we have 8 classes, all related to ad presentation - toasts, teaser, sender header, ad header, ad border, and the ad view itself:

  • AdBorderItem
  • AdHeaderItem
  • AdHeaderView
  • AdSenderHeaderItem
  • AdSenderHeaderView
  • AdTeaserView
  • AdToastBarOperation
  • AdViewFragment

Here are some sample functions from these classes:

showAdvertisementStarToast()
showAdPreferenceManager()
getAdvertisementSenderName()

showAdPreferenceManager() sends the user to https://www.google.com/settings/ads/preferences/, by the way.

See this icon? It's called ic_ad_info.png and we'll probably see it displayed on top of ads:

ic_ad_info

So there you have it - ads are very likely going to be part of Gmail soon. After all, it seems almost silly to not monetize a core app with an absolutely massive install base - between 500 million and a billion. I just hope these ads won't be overly intrusive, and from the looks of things, the Gmail team is approaching the situation with care.

Unsent messages warning in Sent

The Gmail team added a warning about unsent items that may be still hanging around your Outbox to the Sent folder. Whether a message has been unsent due to a bug, size, or lack of connectivity, you will now be warned about it when visiting Sent. This is a very welcomed addition.

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Both screenshots: new Gmail

Contacts without pictures in notifications

Before 4.6, contacts without pictures showed up using the old generic empty picture, like the one you see on the right. Now, the first letter of the name is shown in a colored box, just like in the inbox.

wm_Screenshot_2013-09-25-12-37-02 wm_Screenshot_2013-09-27-16-19-48

Left: new Gmail; right: old Gmail

Cancel button is gone

Just use the Back button from now on to cancel. I suppose that makes sense, though I preferred to have the option on the screen where I already have my finger typing stuff instead of having to reach down for the Back button.

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Left: new Gmail; right: old Gmail

UI icons are now darker

You may have already noticed it yourself - the icons in the user interface are now darker. Here's a comparison between Gmail 4.5 and 4.6. I kind of like the darker, more confident look. How about you?

ic_remove_label_new ic_remove_label

Left: new Gmail; right: old Gmail

That's all for this episode of APK Teardown / What's Really New, folks. More to come soon - we still have Play Movies & TV, YouTube, and Hangouts to dig through.