As news of Google+ began unleashing on the web Google also started pushing out redesigns of a few of the flagship applications to bring them in line with the styling of Google+. The redesigned applications are, at least for the moment, “just cosmetic.” Google hasn’t added any new features to Calendar or GMail, but instead has made it look more like Google+.
The big G outlines why they’ve made these changes:
The way people use and experience the web is evolving, and our goal is to give you a more seamless and consistent online experience — one that works no matter which Google product you’re using or what device you’re using it on. The new Google experience that we’re working toward is founded on three key design principles:
- Focus: With the design changes in the coming weeks and months, we’re bringing forward the stuff that matters to you and getting all the other clutter out of your way.
- Elasticity: The new design will soon allow you to seamlessly transition from your desktop computer to your mobile phone to your tablet, while keeping a consistent visual experience. We aim to bring you this flexibility without sacrificing style or usefulness.
- Effortlessness: Our design philosophy is to combine power with simplicity. We want to keep our look simple and clean. But behind the seemingly simple design, the changes use new technologies to make sure you have all the power of the web behind you.
The new looks almost seems anti-Google, which has always been sparse and not very aesthetically pleasing on the eyes. That was always sort of Google’s charm to me… it was a company of geeks, focused on speed and productivity and not on making things “shiny”. So what’s up with the new look?
Andy Hertzfeld, who has been working at Google since 2005, is the one we can thank for the better-looking interfaces, as he’s the design lead on the project. You might recognize his name from his time spent at Apple (1979 – 1984) where he was a key designer for the original Macintosh software team. Yup, that’s right… one of the key leads on the design of the Macintosh was given free reign to “flex his creative muscles” for the first time within Google and pumped out the designs we’ll be seeing in the forthcoming Google+ as well as GCal and GMail. I for one really like them, and I’d argue that the new design in GMail actually makes it MORE useful because consideration was given to whitespace. There aren’t as many messages displayed on a single screen, but glancing over them sure is easier!
The changes to Calendar and GMail haven’t rolled out to everyone but you CAN give them a try it you’d like.
Enable in GMail:
Go to your Themes tab in Gmail
- Click one of the Preview theme links (bottom right of the themes for me); one is called Preview, the other Preview (Dense)
- Poof… new look
Enable in Calendar:
Even easier… To see the revamped look for Google Calendar, click “Try the new look” in the upper right corner of the app. You can always go back to the old way if you don’t like the redesign.